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New Herkimer BOCES Health and Safety Service
‘a great resource’ for component school districts

Sept. 25, 2015


Adam Hutchinson in his office
Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Health and Safety Service Coordinator Adam Hutchinson works at his desk before heading out to component district Mount Markham on Thursday, Sept. 24. The Health and Safety Service provides fire inspections, safety plans, recordkeeping, training and much more to Herkimer BOCES and its 10 component districts. To learn more, click here.



The new Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Health and Safety Service provides districts with a local resource for dealing with a variety of needs from asbestos inspections to recordkeeping.

The Health and Safety Service handles these tasks for Herkimer BOCES itself and the 10 Herkimer BOCES component districts: Central Valley, Dolgeville, Frankfort-Schuyler, Herkimer, Little Falls, Mount Markham, Owen D. Young, Poland, Richfield Springs and West Canada Valley.

“It’s a good cost-effective and efficient way to handle a lot of these mandatory services that they need such as fire inspections and annual trainings,” Health and Safety Service Coordinator Adam Hutchinson said. “It’s kind of an insurance policy for the districts in that we are proactively keeping track of these requirements and helping them avoid any trouble with not meeting any of the requirements.”

The creation of the Health and Safety Service started this spring in response to a desire for a local service dedicated to enhancing the safety of students and employees of component districts. After launching this summer, the office is now available to meet the mandated needs of districts and enhance their overall levels of health and safety.

About the service

The service is staffed with three other employees in addition to Hutchinson:
  • Kaitlyn Miano, a social worker assigned part-time to the safety service, who will do the human services side of health and safety such as grief counseling and crisis response.
     
  • Dan Parker, a director of facilities assigned part-time to the safety service, who will do work such as playground safety inspections and fire inspections.
     
  • Christina Kelley, a full-time secretary, who will help districts maintain safety files and audit records and keep their eyes on requirements.
Available services fall under the categories of staff training, written compliance programs, records development, facilities inspections and audits, liaison and consultation and cooperative services. As the service moves forward, it will evolve and expand to meet the wants and needs of districts, Hutchinson said.

The service takes some of the responsibility for the requirements off of the districts’ tables, so they can focus on their primary job of educating students, Hutchinson said.

“It’s a pretty expansive program,” he said.

Actions and plans

On the opening day of school this year, Hutchinson went to six districts to conduct Dignity for All Students Act and Right to Know training. Customized shelter-in-place, hold-in-place, evacuation and lock-out procedure templates were printed and distributed to interested districts.

A severe weather alert system also has been set up to email district administrators with severe weather notifications, and it will be updated soon to be able to send district officials text messages with alerts.

One of the next goals is to update building safety plans and districtwide emergency plans, Hutchinson said. Other plans include implementing lockdown and lockout drills, fire safety inspections, playground inspections, trainings and more.

Meet the coordinator

Originally from Rome, Hutchinson and his family now live in Herkimer. He earned his bachelor’s degree in history from Utica College and his master’s in non-profit management and philanthropy from Bay Path University in Massachusetts.

Hutchinson joins Herkimer BOCES after 10 years working for Herkimer County HealthNet, spending five of those years as the executive director. At the health-planning organization, he worked with stakeholders from various sectors to improve the health system in Herkimer County.

Both that job and his new one as Health and Safety Service coordinator are meaningful to him.

“I live in the community, so I think it’s important to have a healthy one,” he said. “One of the foundations of any community is its health.”

Hutchinson has two children who attend Herkimer County schools, so he obviously also has a vested interest in the schools being healthy, he said.

“If it’s not a healthy environment, it’s hard for it to be a valuable educational environment,” he said.

Hutchinson is enjoying the experience of launching and growing the Herkimer BOCES Health and Safety Service.

“It’s fun to be building a program more or less from the ground up,” he said. “I think it’s a great resource offered to the districts.”







 
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