Today’s Lock-Down Drill Leans Towards Replicating a Real Emergency Scenario
February 11, 2014
This week, students were told to be aware that, at some point when much of the student body would be out of the classroom (at lunch, brunch or during a passing period), there would be a lock down drill. This drill did not occur in the middle of a period (as it has in the past) with the intention of replicating a real emergency scenario.
When we have a lock-down drill a staff member is assigned to each area of the school and must go through a number of standard checks for each room. They will go to each classroom door and make sure the blinds are drawn, the room’s occupants are silent, that the door is locked, and that nobody answers any sort of knocking at the door. Afterwards, each of these staff members will write up a report, which they submit to Ms. Kennel for review. After school over the next few days, Ms. Kennel will also receive emails from each individual teacher giving a report on how things went over in his/her classroom.
With today’s drill, the procedure was much the same as it has been with past drills (with the notable addition of an earthquake drill being tacked on at the end). In the past, M-A has done remarkably well on these drills by all measures, without notable holes in the system. Today’s drill added a layer of complexity to the process as students had to transition themselves into classrooms with no specific direction, as the lock-down alarm sounded during the passing period between second period and S.S.&R. Thus, some classrooms ended up nearly at capacity while others were left empty. Still, everyone seemed to adapt relatively smoothly. As with all our emergency drills, the police were on campus. They were given keys to the classrooms and told to enter if the room was too noisy, which was only the case in one room in the school. There were a couple of blinds that were not drawn and a few stragglers who needed to be hurried into classrooms, but for the most part the police and the administration where satisfied that everything had gone “smoothly.”
That being said, the drill did provide some diagnostic information. For example, the administration was made aware that some special considerations may be needed for disabled students. Deaf students are unable to hear the alarm sound and there are no official accompanying visual cues. Though the motion of those around them can be indicative of an emergency, in the future measures will need to be taken to make sure that students with disabilities are properly assisted. After the earthquake drill, it came up that students in wheel chairs who can’t go under desks may need to be equipped with hard-hats to protect them from falling debris.
Despite the new element that today’s drills were carried out during a passing period, many felt that this drill was, in actuality, not that different from those that occur during normal periods. Because the alarm sounded during the last 30 seconds of the period, most people were already in their third period classes and many people even knew the precise time at which the alarm would sound. Moving forward we will start to have drills that account for some of this certainty in order to create a more realistic emergency environment. Students and even teachers (who have historically been privy to the details of emergency drills) will be told only that a drill will happen sometime over a two week time period. The drill then may happen at a less convenient time during the day so students and staff will have to respond to events more organically. Thus, people on campus will become more familiar with emergency procedure and the administration will also have opportunities to spot holes in such procedures, which they will be able to remedy before a real emergency occurs.