WASHINGTON – Emergency preparedness is nothing new to the D.C. region, but recent events may change the tone, and Prince George’s County is preparing.
Power outages, snowstorms, hurricanes. Washingtonians have dealt with them all. Emergency preparedness measures, from stocking up on water, flashlights and batteries to evacuating, are familiar exercises.
Winter-weary Washingtonians often joke about the Pavlovian response they have: get a winter weather advisory and rush to the grocery store for toilet paper and bread.
But now there’s another kind of emergency situation that police call “the active shooter scenario.” Ever since the shootings at Columbine, police departments and local governments have drilled for similar situations.
And, sadly, departments across the country have put those plans to the test in mass shootings at Virginia Tech, Fort Hood,Texas, Aurora, Colo. and Newtown, Conn. Now Washington D.C.’s Navy Yard has been added to that grim list, and one local government will add that type of scenario to its upcoming conference on emergency preparedness.
On Saturday, Sept. 28, Prince George’s County government will hold a day long conference as part of its recognition of National Preparedness month. Among the presenters, Rex Barrett, currently the Acting Director of Security at the Prince George’s County Schools. Barrett says there’s a need to strike a balance between awareness and fear.
“I guess it’s in the message, and how you deliver it. You always have to be vigilant, to be aware of your surroundings,” said Barrett, Referring to the Navy Yard killings.
He says communities should take stock. “Obviously we don’t want incidents like this to affect our everyday lives, but we do have to take precautions.”
But still, “We’re still going to handle our day to day business.”
The conference is designed for families, community and business groups and will run from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Glendarden Ministry Center at 3600 Brightseat Road in Landover. To register, call the Prince George’s County Office of Emergency Management at 301-780-8313.
WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.