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Threat response: Authorities, and students, performed well under difficult circumstances

Twice in two weeks Hood River school and police resources scrambled in response to unusual public safety emergencies.

The Sept. 12 bank robbery manhunt and resulting school lockdown (then lock-in) yielded one set of challenges.

Monday’s bomb threat at HRVHS carried another bundle of issues.

They are two events with similarities as well as striking differences. On Monday, students were sent home, rather than being locked down, and then inside the buildings, as was the case Sept. 12. In the robbery, a suspect was known and forensic evidence was available, and authorities had a good idea of where to focus the search.

On Monday, the “evidence” was a Sharpie-scrawled bathroom note and little other actual evidence. (Note: The case is under investigation, and authorities are remaining suitably terse about what they have found or what they know.)

The bomb threat incident was confined to the campus of HRVHS, rather than affecting that school, Hood River Middle School and both in-town elementary schools, as was the case with the robbery.

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Other differences exist, but now to the similarities:

Quick response and teamwork.

While those involved would be the first to agree that more could have been done, and quicker, it is still true that those in charge of community resources acted cooperatively and efficiently under extraordinary, even unprecedented, circumstances.

In fact, the robbery and resulting actions were very fresh in mind for Supt. Dan Goldman, Sheriff Matt English and others involved.

In both cases, law enforcement investigation quickly produced a suspect in the robbery case, and on Monday the following happened: officers arrived within minutes, the decision to evacuate was quickly made, the buses got to school as soon as possible, and parents were notified immediately.

Lessons about communications and process from Sept. 12 were employed on Sept. 23. That is as it should be, and the goal from here will undoubtedly be to consolidate newly gained lessons and insight from this second unfortunate and unusual event.

Meanwhile, on Monday, staff applied themselves to an orderly transition in sudden circumstances, and students acted responsibly. Many helped lesser-abled students as the evacuation order came down.

“This was a true community effort,” Goldman said.

No one wants these things to keep happening, and school authorities are attuned to helping students keep some perspective on the excitement aspect of negative events such as evacuations and lock-ins. It’s all part of minimizing the ill effects on the school and community in the wake of what was one individual’s reckless actions.

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