Watch now: How LPS is working to keep sporting events safe using new nationwide training | Education


Fans attending a high school football matchup under the lights of Seacrest Field or a College World Series game in Omaha are there to watch what’s happening on the field, not off it.

That’s what risk management teams and law enforcement are for: preparing for the worst and reacting if something happens. But being prepared for the scenarios that could unfold, from severe weather to active shooter, requires communication, training and perhaps most importantly, teamwork.

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This week, Lincoln Public Schools — in conjunction with local law enforcement and other agencies — became one of the first school districts in the nation to host an event risk management training session. sports led by the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security.

The center, based at the University of Southern Mississippi, offers a number of courses for organizations focused on threats to sporting events. But it was only recently that it started offering a course suitable for high school competitions.

Kyle Poore, safety coordinator at LPS, had previously worked with the center and invited local agencies to attend training sessions in Lincoln this week.

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Among those represented were the Lincoln Police Department, Lincoln-Lancaster County Emergency Management, Omaha Police Department, Nebraska School Activities Association and others.

“We probably haven’t had that level of collaboration where it brings everyone together,” Poore said.

LPS trains to prepare for disasters in schools, such as reunification drills in which students are safely transferred to another building, but nothing specifically targets sporting events, Poore said.

NCS4 training, which continues on Tuesday, is more pencil-and-paper learning than simulation, with teams going through activity-based modules to improve planning, risk assessment and training.

Participants also explored scenarios, such as the Indiana State Fair in 2011, when a gust of wind from a thunderstorm toppled a stage, killing seven people.

The advice is timely with the College World Series coming to Omaha later this month. Assessing threats to the public is a priority for many after a wave of gun violence across the United States, including last month’s shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, that left 21 people dead, including 19 children.

“We used to think years and years ago when I started in law enforcement – 25, 30 years ago – that it was more the target, it was the stadiums , installation, and it’s not anymore,” said Joey Sturm, an instructor. with NCS4. “It’s the crowd, it’s the people and…we have to plan for it.”

Sturm takes an all-hazards approach with his training, covering the gamut from the most common weather threats — such as storms or excessive heat — to gunfights or power outages.

The vast majority of games, he points out, run with very little glitches.

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“But we have to plan for the worst, and in those cases we have to do everything to prevent, prepare, mitigate those risks and if something were to happen we have to be able to react,” Sturm said.

LPS is already working closely with local police and the county emergency management team to ensure the events are safe, said athletic director Kathi Wieskamp.

For large events, such as a track meet or football and basketball games, LPS often contracts off-duty police officers for traffic control and other duties, which come from the department’s budget sports. LPS also works with emergency management officials to assess weather and Lincoln Fire and Rescue to handle medical emergencies.

The district hasn’t addressed the idea of ​​instituting protective measures like metal detectors at big events, but Wieskamp said this week’s training will spark conversations about the future.

Lincoln’s two new high schools — Lincoln Northwest and Standing Bear — will also house shared sports complexes when they open, including a new football stadium in Northwest. Wieskamp says the district is currently working on developing risk management plans for these sites.

Lincoln Pius X administrators were also invited to this week’s training, and the course will be offered to other Heartland Athletic Conference schools later this week.

“So even when we go up to Norfolk we will have the same thinking and approach around a situation,” said Wieskamp, ​​who is retiring at the end of June.

There are also plans to bring back NCS4 for further training in the future.

“It helps us be better,” Wieskamp said, “and that’s what we’re constantly working on.”

The course is fully funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

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Contact the writer at [email protected] or 402-473-7225. On Twitter @HammackLJS


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