Meeker Public Schools recently participated in the Safe Schools 101 Program.

Lincoln County Emergency Manager Wendi Marcy said tornadoes in October are really not that rare.

“October is generally the month we really start to transition from Summer to Fall in Oklahoma and the change it atmospheric conditions is known to trigger severe weather events,” she said. “What is rare is for a tornado warning to be issued before 9 a.m. in the morning. It was this 8:31 a.m. tornado warning on Tuesday October 9, that left school administrators scrambling to get kids and staff to their designated safe places in advance of the rapidly approaching storm.”

Marcy stated that all of the Lincoln County Schools acted quickly and did a fantastic job getting everyone to safety.

“I couldn’t be happier with the way our schools performed,” she said. By mid-morning, the storms had moved on to the east and the watches and warnings were canceled but the work doesn’t just stop after the storms pass, Marcy said.

“It is important that after each event we review our policies and procedures and look at what went wrong and what went well to make improvements before the next event,” she said.

This is exactly what Meeker Public School Superintendent Jeff Pruitt did.

Mr. Pruitt contacted March on October 10 and asked for assistance from Emergency Management to evaluate their tornado safety plan and make sure the safe areas they had identified were indeed the safest places in the school buildings. A

An initiative known as Safe Schools 101, a program of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management, brings subject matter experts such as architects, engineers and emergency management personnel together to perform free assessments of individual school structures. The program was utilized to determine the best available areas of refuge in the school structures as well as well as suggest inexpensive ways to harden those areas.

“We are very fortunate to have a program like this available to our schools absolutely free of charge,” she said.

Some schools in the state have avoided the program from the program for fear of being “written up” or reprimanded in some way. Marcy said there is absolutely no reason not to utilize this program — it is in no way regulatory, but simply some very valuable assessments provided free of charge to help school officials make informed decisions and to give peace of mind to students, teachers and parents.

Meeker is the second school district to take advantage of the program; Prague Public Schools participated in 2015 when the program first rolled out.

If you are interested in more information about the Safe Schools 101 Program please contact Wendi Marcy at 405-240-6198 or lincolnco.em@gmail.com.