Threat response: Authorities, and students, performed well under difficult circumstances

Twice in two weeks Hood River school and police resources scrambled in response to unusual public safety emergencies.

The Sept. 12 bank robbery manhunt and resulting school lockdown (then lock-in) yielded one set of challenges.

Monday’s bomb threat at HRVHS carried another bundle of issues.

They are two events with similarities as well as striking differences. On Monday, students were sent home, rather than being locked down, and then inside the buildings, as was the case Sept. 12. In the robbery, a suspect was known and forensic evidence was available, and authorities had a good idea of where to focus the search.

On Monday, the “evidence” was a Sharpie-scrawled bathroom note and little other actual evidence. (Note: The case is under investigation, and authorities are remaining suitably terse about what they have found or what they know.)

The bomb threat incident was confined to the campus of HRVHS, rather than affecting that school, Hood River Middle School and both in-town elementary schools, as was the case with the robbery.

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Other differences exist, but now to the similarities:

Quick response and teamwork.

While those involved would be the first to agree that more could have been done, and quicker, it is still true that those in charge of community resources acted cooperatively and efficiently under extraordinary, even unprecedented, circumstances.

In fact, the robbery and resulting actions were very fresh in mind for Supt. Dan Goldman, Sheriff Matt English and others involved.

In both cases, law enforcement investigation quickly produced a suspect in the robbery case, and on Monday the following happened: officers arrived within minutes, the decision to evacuate was quickly made, the buses got to school as soon as possible, and parents were notified immediately.

Lessons about communications and process from Sept. 12 were employed on Sept. 23. That is as it should be, and the goal from here will undoubtedly be to consolidate newly gained lessons and insight from this second unfortunate and unusual event.

Meanwhile, on Monday, staff applied themselves to an orderly transition in sudden circumstances, and students acted responsibly. Many helped lesser-abled students as the evacuation order came down.

“This was a true community effort,” Goldman said.

No one wants these things to keep happening, and school authorities are attuned to helping students keep some perspective on the excitement aspect of negative events such as evacuations and lock-ins. It’s all part of minimizing the ill effects on the school and community in the wake of what was one individual’s reckless actions.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge



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