Day Care Center's beef up emergency plans - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Day Care Center's beef up emergency plans

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August 26, 2002

Albany--These days, schools have emergency procedures in place to handle extreme circumstances, like a bomb threat or an intruder wielding a gun. Now, Georgia's day care centers are updating their emergency plans. The Georgia Emergency Management Agency kicked off a state-wide training seminar in Albany today that's teaching day care workers how to handle these situations.

The playful babies present a sticky situation for day care workers in the event of an emergency. Byne Memorial Child Development Preschool Minister Linda Baxter says, "With babies they can't walk and they can't talk, and if someone comes to get them they can't say this is not my mommy."

At Byne Memorial Child Development Center, babies are placed in fire beds, or rolling cribs, during an emergency and moved out of the building in a safe and orderly fashion. These kind of evacuation methods are being encouraged by GEMA at their training courses. GEMA School Safety Coordinator Sheri Russo says, "If I'm going to drop off my child I want to know they are safe, if I know their is a comprehensive plan, that's not to say nothing will happen but the facility is prepared in case something happens."

Day care owners and directors are being taught how to develop an emergency plan, not just in the case of a fire or tornado, but in the event of a bomb threat or an intruder. Baxter says, "We do a fire drill and a tornado drill once a month, but not a bomb threat, that's something we are looking into too."

And, on any given day as many as 200 children are being cared for at Byne, and workers are taking other security measures, like installing cameras around the building, to keep the kids safe. Baxter says, "I think because of the situation in the world parents are expecting day care to be up to par and do our jobs." And, day care workers say their number one job is to keep children in their charge safe.

Earlier this year, GEMA sent 3,000 day care centers a "Play it Safe" kit with an instruction video and manual on how to develop an Emergency Operations Plan. These training courses are intended to expand on this information in a classroom setting.

Posted at 4:23 p.m. by melissa.kill@walb.com