Emergency Preparedness

The statewide tornado drill is set for this Thursday morning and students in schools across the state will participate in the annual ritual.

For many high schools, it will be unfortunately another example of kids standing around doing nothing for 20 minutes, and I say that because emergency preparedness in schools is treated as a joke. Even the fire alarm at Eastern Guilford H.S. on the day of that tragedy wasn’t treated seriously until students saw flames and smelled smoke.

Fire drills and tornado drills have to be taken more seriously (this is also why we need to fight to keep our SROs in our schools). This also means cracking down and punishing those who pull false fire alarms and start trash can fires in bathrooms.

Pulling false fire alarms in schools have been around for as long as the fire alarm system has been invented, but apparently the punishment isn’t quite as severe.

This time two years ago when I was teaching at Andrews, the first fire drill I was involved in was like a circus, kids all over the place, nothing was orderly, many didn’t even answer the alarm; I was then told by several students (and some staff): “it goes off all the time.”

They were right. From March of 2005 until June of 2005, false fire alarms were daily, sometimes twice a day. I know what Kiser Middle School is going through with the false fire alarm problems they’re experiencing now.

Punishment? Just a slap on the wrist. I believe the SRO at the time did make an arrest or two and wrote citations, but administrative punishment was next to nothing. The problem only got attention when a trash can fire in a girls bathroom one afternoon between class changes spread and smoke billowed throughout the building. The fire alarm was pulled and only about half of the building evacuated. It took fire officials about 20 minutes to completely clear the building.

It was a situation that spiraled out of control. False fire alarm punishments need to be more extreme and examples need to be made. And emergency preparedness in schools overall needs to be taken more seriously.

E.C. 🙂


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: