Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Creating Model Emergency Management Plans, for Schools, Universities & Places of Worship

The Office of the Vice President  & Department of Homeland Security organized an event on “Creating Model Emergency Management Plans, for Schools, Universities & Places of Worship” at the executive offices of the White House.

What a wonderful experience - not just for the attendees but to the organizers as well. HASC was represented by  Dr. Siva Subramanian as well as Guruvayurappan and Ramesh Swamy.

The first panel was for Schools, the second for Institutions of Higher Education/Universities & the third for Faith Based Places of Worship! Each panel discussed their respective topics in detail and answered questions from the audience.

First Panel was chaired by the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. The Columbine & Sandy Hook School shootings were discussed. A discussion on how school safety is being implemented in Florida schools was also discussed. The highlight of this discussion was a teacher from Sandy Hook Elementary School, narrated her experience when she was shot by the lone gunman.

Second Panel: This was chaired by the FBI Exe. Asst. Dir. Richard McFeely. The other members were from Virginia Tech who discussed their experience during the massacre there in 2007. The panel also included a student from the incident who was shot and injured. The team narrated how they learnt and improved on their strategies after learning from the Mumbai Terror attacks of 2008. Some very pertinent points on how to keep family & public informed on such incidents, keeping in mind the privacy of victims.

Third & Last Panel: A very important one for all our temples across USA!
This panel was chaired by Ms. Janet Napolitano. Secretary of Homeland Security - one of the most powerful persons in President Obama's Administration. She did an excellent job in introducing the panelists consisting of the Trustee from Oak Creek Gurudwara Shri Balhair Singh Dulai, the Chief of Police - John Edwards of Oak Creek Police Department Wisconsin, a representative from Jewish Crisis Center John Goldstein & a representative from Christian Emergency Response Center.

Chief John Edwards explained how he had learned a lot about the Sikh community. He explained how they were taken aback when the Sikh Community insisted a casket for the shooter as well, which they had to decline after long deliberations. He also went to say how the Sikh community came together to help each other but also the officer Lt. Brian Murphy who was shot by the gunman in the parking lot of Gurdwara. Balhair Singh Dulai, the Trustee & Treasurer of Wisconsin Gurdwara explained the spine chilling incident of how there were so many lapses & weaknesses in their place of worship & how they have improved & increased not only the security but awareness as well.

Written by: Guruvayurappan and Ramesh Swamy

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