CANFIELD, Ohio (WYTV) – Canfield Middle School is getting ready to take 200 eighth graders to Washington D.C. Since student safety is a huge responsibility for teachers and principals, they received expert advice at a roundtable Tuesday afternoon.
ATG Worldwide does tactical training for law enforcement and civilians. Men who used to work in the CIA shared procedures and tips to help school leaders prepare for the class trip.
Scot Loveland, an ATG representative, suggested letting the students know what sights and sounds to expect in the new city beforehand. Washington D.C. is fast-paced and he says many of the students have grown up isolated in Mahoning County.
“It’s a very diverse population down there. You will get everywhere from street vendors, to panhandlers, to all types of con artists.”
Judd Rubin, the middle school principal, was part of Tuesday’s safety briefing. He says after the Paris attacks, some parents were worried about sending their kids to D.C. for three days.
“We just wanted to take some extra steps to make sure we had some ideas just in case there was something that occurred,” Rubin said.
Loveland says situational awareness, or being aware of your surroundings, is key.
“People constantly have their heads down, literally not looking at their surroundings, and that’s very unfortunate because people that prey on vulnerable people look for that. You create a much harder target if your head is up and you’re aware of your surroundings.”
Having a designated meeting point, checking with the parks to see if there are any rallies or protests and doing a pre-trip threat assessment were also stressed in the briefing. Loveland says these are tips anyone can use when planning a trip.
“You obviously don’t want to take a group of junior high school kids into, who knows, 20,000 unidentified protestors,” he said. “Just know the political situation in the area, the crime situation, the threat level that’s put out by the Department of Homeland Security.”
A trip like this is all about preparing for the worst case scenario and hoping those plans are never used. At the end of the day, it’s about having a fun, memorable and safe trip.