Disasters of all kinds - natural and otherwise - can occur without warning and no one, not even a day care, is immune.
Carolyn Bolton traveled all the way from Elberton to find out how to be prepared for anything at the Play It Safe seminar held last week at the Columbia County Emergency Services Agency office.
The seminar, taught by Georgia Emergency Management Agency, was designed to better prepare child care providers in case of severe weather, intruders, bomb threats, transportation accidents, among many other critical situations.
"It is a lot of things you just do not think about. It's good," said Carolyn Bolton, director of the Elberton County Child Development Center in Elberton.
Legislation signed into law by Governor Roy Barnes on April 21, 1999, directs GEMA to provide training and technical assistance on the issues of school safety to the education, emergency management and public safety communities all over the state.
Sheri Russo, GEMA school safety coordinator, spoke to child care providers from as far as Elberton and Millen and also the local areas of Columbia and Richmond counties. She passed out a Play It Safe tool kit, which included a 68-page document and video to help directors and staff keep children safe and establish an Emergency Operations Plan.
"It is more education and help to keep our kids safe," Russo said.
The best advice she could give was to contact and work with local public safety agencies like the sheriff's office, EMA and fire department. The small group in attendance learned valuable tactics against many types of threats as well as who should be involved in the emergency plan.
"Contact public safety and emergency management agencies because it's going to take all of us working together to come up with a comprehensive plan," Russo stressed.
Most present said they already run regular drills, but did not realize the many threats child care facilities are vulnerable to.
Melanie Edwards is a nurse with Pediatric Services of Augusta, which is opening a treatment center for special needs children on Park West Drive Monday.. She represented the practice at the seminar.
"I have a lot of new questions I am going to go back and find answers to," Edwards said.
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