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Emergency preparedness topic of conference

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Amarillo, Texas - Responders in our area say they are better equipped to handle emergency situations thanks to a conference held in Amarillo.

Hundreds of first responders, volunteers and elected officials from across the panhandle came to learn about topics related to emergency management and public safety. A main topic of the conference is active shooter safety.

"Well of course in the school district, of course our challenges are now with the people that are coming onto school campuses to cause a problem or to hurt people, and so that's a special interest to us," Chief Larry Payne, Dumas ISD Police Department says.

Chief Payne says listening to others who have been through an actual incident is beneficial to their own safety plan. He listened to speaker Karen Adkins with the McKinney Police Department who was involved in an active shooter incident in 2010.

Payne says he will be attending a technical training session that focuses on recovery after an incident in a school setting.

"Incase the worst does happen, we certainly want to be prepared to know how recover quickly and get everything in place so that we recover from the incident," Payne says.

Emergency Planner for the Panhandle Regional Planning Commission, Emily Nolte, says old emergency plans are no longer enough.

"They're designed to help those long term care facilities and school help develop their plan. Right now two pages isn't going to do what needs to be done," Nolte says.

Harris Associated Consulting is a vendor that was present at the conference. They provide information and training to increase safety awareness in emergency situations.

"We really have that ability to go to the nth degree and present to people ideas an options that maybe they didn't have before. So, I think we kind of an invaluable service because we think way outside the box," Libby Harris, chairman of Harris Associated Consulting says.

Those in attendance today tell us networking with other departments and organizations on how better interact in a shooting event has been beneficial.