Free family reunification training was offered on Thursday at the Monongalia County Health Department. The seminar provided training on how to unite students with parents after a crisis.
“Immediately you’re going to be taking care of the problem at hand, but as soon as that is solved, you’re going to have to conduct an evacuation. You’re going to have parents, family, and friends frantic and wanting to get to the site, to connect with their family and loved ones and children,” said Danny Camden, Captain of the WVU Police Department.
This was led by John Michael Keyes, the co-founder of the Colorado based ‘I Love U Guys’ Foundation. Keyes named the foundation after the last text he received from his daughter, Emily, who was shot and killed in 2006 at Platte Canyon High School.
In 2012, the foundation filled the void of student parent reunification after a crisis through the Standard Reunification Method.
“Most schools have safety plans, but very few had reunification plans. We looked at what was going on in the country and we had a couple of districts who had pioneered a model and based on that, we developed the Standard Reunification Method,” said Keyes.
In 2009, the foundation developed a program called the Standard Response Protocol about sharing the same language during a crisis.
“Typically in events that stress people, the use of language, the use of codes and things like that can cause communication issues and people to make mistakes,” said Jamie Moore, Marion County Health Department Public Health Emergency Programs Coordinator.
Today, over 25,000 schools, districts, and agencies in the U.S. And Canada are using this program.
Throughout the day long seminar held at the Mon County Health Department, over seventy people attended.
“It was tremendous today, because we saw agencies from not just West Virginia, but Pennsylvania also. Some folks had driven a couple of hundred miles. That’s really important. That very first step in emergency management, is knowing who your partners are going to be. Because if something big happens, everybody is going to be responding and no one wants to be handing out business cards in a crisis,” said Keyes.