My daughter goes to a wonderful private Waldorf school, in the basement of a church… Recently I was walking around the building with “earthquake eyes” and I wondered to myself if the kids are doing any earthquake drills.
I thought about it for about a minute a decided to ask her teacher about earthquake drills. They are currently doing Fire Drills which is wonderful but not yet earthquake drills. It was brought to my attention that our school could use a safety committee. Well talk about right up my alley. So I dropped my daughter off and went into my office and sat down at my computer and could not really think about anything else.
I started to draft the outline of a talk about an emergency crisis plan and of course needed to start doing some homework about how to go about this.
If you go to a public school in America it is most likely that your school already has a comprehensive emergency plan. But if your children attend a small or private school it is possible that the emergency plan could use a update or two or perhaps your schools parents may need to make one from scratch.
At the end of the article I will provide you with some useful links that can help you create a outline for your parent group or PTA.
I do not recommend trying to do this all on your own. You are dealing with parents from all walks of life, perhaps cultural differences that you may not know how to deal with, working together with your parent community I think is the best way to go about this.
That said.. I am only at the outline stage and will update you as we go along.
Your Emergency Crisis outline.
Create Goals: Goals give you something to work towards together.
Share Information: if you know some answers already it does not hurt to share them.
Ask Questions: Lay out some questions about what your school is already doing so those can be answered as part of the whole plan. Remember your school is going to use this plan this year, next year and so on..
Have a mission, if you are going to be proposing this to a group of parents and teachers, it’s a good idea to decide what your end goal is before you get started.
1. My Mission: To create a progressive, comprehensive and detailed emergency plan for our school with the help of our families that ensures no matter what the emergency may be that our families, students and staff are protected though communication, education and practice.
Yeah sounds good to me too.. I was in a good writing spirit this morning.
Define some terms, remember that most people do not have a comprehensive experience with emergencies, disaster planning and mitigation and so on. Remember to TRY and keep it simple..
2. What is an emergency?
An emergency is any event natural or manmade that presents an increased risk of injury or death to our children or staff or physical damage to our school.
In this document we will be focusing on Events that can present a risk to our children and staff.
Define what could realistically happen in your immediate area, here in Portland earthquakes are central in our preparedness plan.
3. What type of Emergencies can impact us at our school?
a. Fire : Our building could be at risk for fire, potential sources of Fire include, Electrical Failure, Kitchen Fire, Human Error, Arson
Q. What do we know about our fire alarm?
Q. Do we know what the fire alarm sounds like?
Q. Do we have a mapped evacuation plan?
b. Earthquake: We live in a seismically active area and a major earthquake in Portland is not a “if” but a “when”.
c. Chemical release: Our schools proximity to industry along I-84 and the rail lines along I-84 increase the risk factor for chemical release either from an industrial or rail car accident.
Goal: we need to establish a procedure for sheltering in place. Everyone needs to be aware of how to shelter in place.
Our school is unlocked during business hours and often times when staff and volunteers are working after school hours, how are we prepared to deal with potential threats from the criminal aspect.
e. Power Outages
f: Weather Related emergencies, snow storm, wind storm, etc.
Communication is essential to a schools emergency plan. Certainly here where our students may be cut off from their parents as a result of a seismic event.
4. Communication during an emergency.
a. Methods of Communication
1. TEXT message: It has been proven that it is more likely that a small text message will transmit even when lines are jammed. “IMOK RUOK” Im okay are you okay? a simple statement and question that can be sent quickly in the event of a emergency.
Really this works because the IMOK RUOK is a 8 bit message, most carriers text messaging systems prioritize messages by size. The smaller the message the faster it will go into and out of the message queue.
Also Remember that if a Carrier is down your CELL will use 2-3x the batter searching for signal. Turn that phone off between messages.
GOAL: Establish a telephone tree to be used in emergencies.
GOAL: Establish a TEXT messaging protocol
a. communication with our teachers.
GOAL: Establish who we can contact and how we can contact them.
b. communication with our families.
GOAL: After establishing a telephone tree for our families establish tree priority. Assign area groups to contact one another. SW Families should contact SW families SE Family’s the same.. The reason for this is because of how the telephone and cellular system works.
Transportation Plans: Our school is a private school and we do not have access to buses. Our children rely on us to bring them to and from school. Because our schools families come from all over the city it is critical to think about what kind of transportation we may need in the event of a emergency.
5. Transportation Plans: We have students who come from all areas of our city. In a major earthquake, infrastructure like bridges, tunnels, over and underpasses my be damaged, destroyed or otherwise impassable. in the event of a terror attack or public health emergency If we need to shelter in place authorities may blockade or otherwise restrict travel city wide.
- GOAL: We need to have a plan created with our families that protects the children and ensures that parents are aware of where their children are or are going to be.
- GOAL: We need to establish plans that include our children remaining on school grounds for a extended period of time as well as plans that may be needed if our children need to leave the school area.
- a. buddy system
GOAL: Parents should establish another family in the community that they can expect to communicate with in the event of a emergency. It would be wise that west side parents partner with east side parents, just in case the west side becomes cut off from the east side for a short period of time.
- GOAL: Students should establish a buddy for the purposes of drills and events. Children should be taught that in an emergency they NEVER leave their Buddy’s side unless their buddy is hurt and they need to get help
b. meet up locations: everyone should have a safe meetup location. Unless the school is damaged that location SHOULD be the school, from there Buddy families can establish how everyone is getting home.
GOAL: Establish where other meetup locations should be
- INFO: Our Nearest CERT / NET staging area is located at: X Blocks south & x blocks east at (address) ((Remember that during a major seismic event things could look very different. Use directions that could be found using a compass )
The next nearest staging area is operated at: X blocks nort
The Next MAJOR staging area is the Portland Fire and Rescue Staging area located at :HELP IS NOT CLOSE BY! We should prepare to be on our own in an emergency.
c. Evacuation: Evacuation may be necessary, having established communication plans and meet up locations will ensure that each family is on the same page when and if something were to happen.
We should plan for our kids to have everything they needs for at least 72 hours, in a large public school it can be difficult for them to have a 72 hour kit and not be worried about it being stolen or vandalized, in a smaller private school this should not be a problem, But you will need to find a safe place to store the students emergency kits.
6. Supplies and Preparedness
a. emergency kits
GOAL: Each Child should have emergency kits at school. Those should be 72 hour kits, which contain food. water packets, clothing, heavy duty shoes, activity’s, medications, and a small first aid kit. Ideally because we are in a basement and most injuries during a earthquake are from falling debris, it would be nice if each child could have a helmet close to their desk. (perhaps vectored to the bottom of the desk.
b. school supplies: LONG TERM GOAL
The school could prepare by having more comprehensive emergency supplies onhand, we could find (donated) or make a backboard. We could have helmets for teachers, teacher should have boots, a 72 hour kit for themselves, the school could make sure they have a comprehensive first aid kit that includes splints, bandages, gaze and padding. I would also suggest having a 5 gallon bucket and a lid that could be used as a bathroom. If we had a pop up tent we could use in the parking lot. There are a lot of other ideas we could discuss as a community.
Drills, Just like at home I cannot stress how important it is to have drills and to make them complete everyone forgets things especially kids. Repetition is essential to being able to use your plan in a real life emergency.
7. Drills a. types of drills: Fire. Earthquake, Sheltering in place
b. participation : Students, Teachers and Parent Volunteers should participate at school, Parents and buddies should consider drilling at home.
c. scale: There are two types of drills: At school: Teachers can initiate drills at school
Community Drill: As a community we could drill out a entire scenario.
d. frequency: Fire Drills and Get under the desk drills should be practiced at least once every 3 months. It is easy to forget what we are supposed to do.. I full scale community drill could be done twice a year.
There are numerous resources online. I suggest at LEAST checking out these ones..
The FEMA earthquake safety Activities for children and teachers booklet: http://www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/earthquake/pdf/fema-527.pdf
We can download a sample Crisis plan from my website that we could use as a basis for a full scale plan. http://learnhowtobeprepared.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/emergency_crisis_plan.doc
DO NOT PURCHASE PREMADE TEMPLATES FILL IN THE BLANKS AND CALL IT GOOD.. .Read this article http://www.schoolsecurity.org/trends/crisis-plan-templates.html