Superintendent takes to the skies to ensure student safety

By Megan R. Harrell
Star Staff

Community leaders took to the skies Tuesday afternoon in order to provide city and county students with the safest learning environment possible. Elizabethton/Carter County Emergency Management Services Director Jim Burrough has been working on a comprehensive crisis prevention plan for area schools and needed aerial photos of the facilities.
   The latest step in the intervention program was the result of the combined efforts of Dallas Williams, Superintendent of County Schools; Johnny Holder, Register of Deeds; Randy Musick, Elizabethton Municipal Airport Manager; Churchill Winston, City Schools Computer Technician, and Skip Green, pilot. Holder and Winston took aerial pictures of each city and county school during their one-hour flight. The Elizabethton Municipal Airport supplied the fuel for the flight.
   The pictures were taken at about 1000 feet above earth and will provide schools and the EMS with needed information on the law out of each facility. "It will help us know what is on the other side of the buildings in case anything happens," Burrough said. "We are able to see if there are any places for individuals to hide or if there are open fields. We feel the pictures will be a great asset to the schools."
   The aerial photos will be added to the schools' crisis management handbooks where ground shots of the facilities are already included. This is the first time the EMS and schools have been able to add the photos to the handbook. An increase in technology has made the addition possible and provides more safety for the community. Each school will have a copy of the handbook on site while EMS will keep an exhaustive copy of the entire county.
   The EMS will be able to download the aerial photos into a laptop computer that will be portable to any of the sites in case of an emergency. "We are taking every precaution that we can to see that students are kept safe, and in case something happens there is a plan," Burrough said.
   A comprehensive crisis management plan for the county has already been sent to Alcoa. After its approval there the plan will move to Nashville for final authorization.
   Supt. Williams is appreciative of the local EMS' dedication to the protection of the school environment. "We certainly appreciate everything that Mr. Burrough does to help the school system help us to prepare for and prevent emergencies," said Williams. "It is always nice to know that we have an office like this in the county that will help us."