DAVENPORT, Iowa - As more than 550 people prepare to have conversations about emergency preparedness at the Quad City Emergency Readiness Conference on April 4, some local leaders spent the evening of April 3rd together, enjoying dinner and chatting around the table with former Columbine Principal Frank DeAngelis.
Conversations tended to focus on one topic: Mass shootings in America and how communities respond, react, and recover from them.
Director of the Scott County Emergency Management Agency, Dave Donovan, said the upcoming conference will invite talks about these uncomfortable realities that many communities must now learn to deal with.
"We are taking things right out of the headlines." said Donovan. "The topics and the speakers that we will have (at the conference) resonate with the attendees and with the folks in our community."
Frank DeAngelis, the former principal of Columbine High School - where 13 lives were lost during a massacre in 1999- will share his story at the conference, while reminding attendees that any community can be struck by terrors of a mass shooting.
He will also explain why he believes every community must prepare ways to try and prevent mass shooting tragedies from happening.
"The message is that it can happen on any given day," said DeAngelis. "It worries me when you have politicians stating that if we have tougher gun laws, then school violence is going to end," he said. "That's just one piece of the puzzle."
DeAngelis said some other aspects that need to be considered are the allocation of mental health resources, emergency preparedness plans, and other programs and mobile applications that can be used as tools.
He also said that one key is bringing together different pieces of the community to make sure we are not missing warning signs.
"For a long time, prior to Columbine, we were all these separate entities," said DeAngelis. "Schools worked as individuals and then you had law enforcement. Now we share information, but we need to continue to do that."
Events like the Quad City Emergency Readiness Conference offer opportunities to bring community minds together.
According to Donovan, tomorrow's conference will connect people from counties as far as 100 miles away from Scott County. Attendees will include leaders from schools, law enforcement agencies, nursing homes, public health offices, hospitals and more.
Registration for the conference is closed.