Kissing the Cow
Two Alarms Sounded for Apparent Stove-top Fire
After seeing a fire in the area of the stove top and hearing the smoke detectors activating, the Mank family of Richman Road in Hudson evacuated their condex home on Monday afternoon, October 16. Responding to the two-alarm fire were 33 emergency responders including eight engines, one ladder truck and seven tankers. Nashua sent an engine to the scene along with a ladder due to Hudson’s ladder being out of service.
At 4:38 p.m., Deputy Fire Chief Gary Rodgers called for a second alarm due to this property being out of the hydrant district which brought a Salem engine (as the Rapid Intervention Team), Litchfield, Derry and Windham engines, and one of Hudson’s ambulances to the scene. Hollis and Merrimack Fire departments provided station coverage for Hudson Central fire station along with a Londonderry ladder.
Hudson fire crews met heavy smoke upon arriving at the scene. A considerable amount of damage was done to the right side of the condex. The bulk of the main fire damage was to the rear of the building in the kitchen on the first floor with moderate damage to the second floor. The left side of the condex sustained smoke damage.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation but is not considered suspicious; it appears the fire started on the stove top.
Keeping Our Kids Safe at School
New Technology Tools with an
Old-fashioned Sense of Community
Editor’s note: Some events, like the first major school shootings in Columbine in 1999, shook our world and the entire concept of “being safe.” Given some recent scares close to home -- along with the rash of three school shootings in the last few weeks in Pennsylvania, Colorado and Wisconsin -- student safety and school security have been anxiously elevated as top concerns by all.
In this two-part feature, Keeping Our Kids Safe at School, the Hudson~Litchfield News looks at some of the policies, resources, and procedures already in place or being considered in Hudson and Litchfield schools. This week’s article addresses some of the new security technologies schools are using and the importance of building a close community. Look for part two next week when we assess the role and importance of student resource officers, emergency response teams and parents.
by Maureen Gillum
The world has changed a great deal in recent decades, especially in the post 9/11 era. “To quote my dean of students, this is 2006 not 1956,” shared Mike Parent, Principal of Campbell High School in Litchfield. “We’ve been busy revising our safety policies and procedures over the last few years, in concert with the Litchfield Police and Fire departments, which has been extremely helpful.”
CHS’ Safety Committee, made up of volunteer teachers and administrators, meet regularly each month to review such precautions as lock downs, fire drills. They also do risk assessments of ongoing and upcoming issues and concerns.
CHS, which was built in 2000 and serves more than 500 students, is also leading the area in the use of key security technologies. “Video monitoring equipment is being installed this week at Campbell High to screen areas like our parking lots, hallways, and entrance ways,” reported Parent. “It’s an important tool our school board felt could provide another layer of needed safety in today’s world.” The CHS principal also shared, “We used video monitoring in my former high school (Keene), which worked quite well as an effective deterrent to certain behaviors and a great assistance to administrators.” CHS has also stepped up security by locking all of their outside doors, separating their student and faculty parking lots, and utilizing their part-time student resource officer.
Admitting “administrators are often the last to know,” Parent openly seeks and encourages help from the community at large. “We especially depend a great deal on our students and parents as part of our community,” he added openly. “They’re an important and integral part of our safety team and they need to pro-actively let us know when something unusual happens or when security issues and concerns come up.”
Hudson Memorial School’s Assistant Principal, Lori Robicheau, also spearheads HMS’ Safety Committee, which meets monthly and in response to specific incidents as needed. Robicheau shared a few new safety measures HMS has implemented since a missing child alert for a 13-year-old HMS student on September 20, which was later deemed false following a thorough Hudson Police investigation,. “A new Public Alert Radio now operates and is monitored constantly in HMS’ busy front office,” detailed Robicheau. “The device is designed to signal different types of alerts ranging from weather emergencies to child abductions and other law enforcements emergencies.”
Also related to the HMS missing child scare, a new software program which Hudson Police began using in mid-2005 was also an “enormous help.” “Using Amber Alert guidelines, ‘A Child is Missing’ Program is capable of launching up to 1,000 telephone alert calls within 60 seconds,” explained Detective Sergeant Chuck Dyac, who led the late September investigation. To date, the Florida-based non-profit organization (www.achildismissing.org) boasts ACIM has assisted in 162 safe recoveries nationwide. “Tools like ACIM are crucial as it puts citizens on urgent alert in the most crucial early hours,” detailed Dyac.
A relatively low-tech but effective safety measure HMS also just put into place is the student photo ID card. For years every staff member has been required to wear one. “This will enable us to know, identify and better track our student body,” reported Robicheau. “Starting this month, all HMS students are required to carry their ID badges at all times and will need them to get into afterschool events like HMS school dances.” The only other Hudson student body, to date, issued ID cards has been the students at Alvirne High.
Guidance also plays a critical role in safety awareness, especially in younger grades. For example, Nottingham West Elementary’s Guidance Counselor, Meg Williams explained “guidance has a comprehensive eight-week lesson plan that encompasses topics like bullying, friendship, study skills, and Drug Abuse Resistance Education for every grade level.” She emphasized she tries to teach kids “common sense” and to “trust their instincts about how their stomach feels” in various situations.
While she “absolutely loves her job and the kids,” Williams also admits “the challenges and workload seem to increase every year” and “safety encompasses many aspects.” Like many educators, she sees more and more children coming to school hungry, tired, stressed, or sometimes with signs of mental or physical abuse or neglect. “Sadly and increasingly, too many basic care and safety issues are not being met at home, which adds greatly to the burdens of our schools and educators,” Williams shared with concern. In the broader scope, “It’s all about communicating and building awareness with the kids,” she concluded with a smile, “getting to know every kid in the building is also essential.”
“Personalized education” and “knowing and greeting kids by name” was one of the foremost recommendations made in the New Hampshire Department of Education’s child safety memo sent to all superintendents and administrators on October 4. Commissioner Lyonel Tracy called safety “an ongoing process” and encouraged all schools to “review Emergency Preparedness and/or Safety plans” and work with the “valuable assets” of “local police and fire departments in your safety planning, practice and implementation.” While the state has no mandates for school safety, they “strongly encourage” schools to enact emergency preparedness and safety plans. Tracy stated, “Maintaining vigilance must continue to be our highest priority.”
Alvirne High School’s Principal, Bryan Lane, also stresses the importance of building relationships within the schools. Lane conjectured, “Security cameras aren’t warranted yet in Hudson.” Further, he thinks security measures can “only go so far,” and in some cases, can be cost prohibitive or even negatively impact educational programs. “The best policy to make sure things (violence, crime, drugs) don’t happen in our schools is to build good relationships with our students,” concluded Lane.
Library Street School Beautification