Safety First at Lay Elementary

Local officials visited Lay Elementary for the first school safety summit.
Local officials visited Lay Elementary for the first school safety summit.

Special to The Mountain Advocate 
Students and staff at Jesse D. Lay Elementary are taking a careful look at their safety plans and drills as the school works to clarify and strengthen what steps it will take in the event of an actual emergency.

On Tuesday, December 1, local first responders visited Lay for the first school safety summit to be held in the Knox County Public Schools.   Both emergency officials and school staff took on the hard questions and scenarios that will make both groups better prepared to address future difficult situations.


The event started with a welcome from student members of Lay’s Lighthouse leadership team.  The students thanked first responders for their time and for what they do to protect our community.  The meeting quickly transitioned into a work session where Lay’s emergency plans were shared with the group for feedback.  Many different scenarios was discussed, including natural and man-made disasters.  One topic from the conversation discussed Lay’s proximity to the railroad tracks running along the state highway and what steps the school has planned to take should a train derail or a spill occur where chemicals become airborne.

“We want to know what we can work on to become a safer school, regardless of what emergency we might face,” was the guiding directions for the summit given by Eryleen Hammons, family resource director and school level emergency coordinator for Lay.   Hammons works closely with school principal Jeff Frost and staff to identify and eliminate hazards and safety concerns year around.

“By having the experts with us today, we want to know from you what we could do different and what you would need from us,” Hammons explained.

Before dismissing, those in attendance were given a tour of Lay by the students.  The tour included an advanced lockdown drill that demonstrated to the first responders one of the many drills that students practice year around.

Taking part in the Lay Elementary safety summit were Doug Dozier, Barbourville Fire Department, Rebecca Rains, Knox County Health Department, Carl Bolton and Mike Smith, Knox County Sheriffs Department, Mike Mitchell, Knox County Emergency Management, Winston Tye, Barbourville Police Department,  J.M. Hall, Knox County Judge-Executive, and David Thompson, Barbourville City Mayor.