Potential Gas Leak Was a Great Test of Our Emergency Procedures
At about 1:20 pm on Wednesday, a teacher reported a smell of gas in the middle of the east parking lot. As the administrative team went to investigate, the office staff got on the phone with PG&E, and they recommended an evacuation of the entire campus. So, that is just what we did.
In less than 10 minutes all students were brought to the field – away from all structures and the potential danger. The emergency team checked rooms and verified everyone was out, while teachers took attendance on the field. The gas main was also turned off. In the meantime, I began communicating with the district office via a special walkie talkie in each school office.
With students and staff secure and PG& E on site, it was now time to get a message to you. Mr. Crosby, the Evergreen Communication Director, was able to send my message that all students were safe while we were still evacuated.
Just before our dismissal, PG&E cleared us to return to classes. Once back in my office and after dismissal, I sent a follow up message to parents and debriefed the event with our district leaders.
It was clear that our monthly emergency drills along with the annual district-wide practice of procedures paid off. We kept our students and staff safe and kept communication channels open. It's important to expect things each time in that order. My first priority will be to ensure everyone's safety. After that comes communicating updates.
MONTHLY DRILLS Each month we practice different emergency procedures.
- •FIRE For a fire, an alarm will sound to trigger the evacuation. Like the evacuation for the potential gas leak, students exit classrooms immediately. Once they have assembled in the evacuation areas teachers take attendance and turn it in to the administrative safety lead. Members of the office are assigned to zones and walk room to room to ensure everyone is evacuated and report to our command center via walkie talkie.
- •EARTHQUAKE/DISASTER For an earthquake, students and staff immediately duck and cover when the ground shakes. Similarly to the fire, the safety team moves classroom to classroom to evacuate students. Although an earthquake has the potential for after shocks, so students are dismissed in small groups. Once the entire class has assembled, again the teachers take attendance report to the command center for further directions.
- •SHELTER IN PLACE This is used when there are mild dangers (such as a dangerous animal) on campus or near the campus. In this procedure, students remain in the room with the door secured, but regular activities continue.
- •HIDE (a.k.a. BARRICADE IN PLACE) This is when the danger is on the campus, so students lock and barricade the door and build an interior barricade with furniture in the classroom. This is for more serious threats on the campus.
- •RUN There are multiple predetermined, but not disclosed, locations off campus which we can use to run or evacuate the campus. This is used when moving away from the danger is an option.
- •DEFEND On a middle school campus, the adults have considered what they could use in the classroom to defend themselves from an attack. This is a last resort strategy.
We spend time practicing safety drills every month, so that when we are faced with any danger, we ensure your child's safety.