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Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hold It Drill…

G4

Disaster drills are a fact of school life.

Every school in the country has the “Fire” and “Code Red Intruder” drills. In the old days there used to be that third emergency drill, but the chances of surviving a nuclear attack huddled under radiation proof wooden desks have been pretty much proven pointless.

Here in California we don’t have to worry about hurricane, tornado or floods but we do have the “Earthquake Drill”.

As a substitute teacher, I’m supposed to know the procedures in what to do during all of these drill emergencies. While I do know the basics, some of the more nit picky details change from year to year. This year is no exception.

The basics of “Earthquake Drill is:

· Duck and cover under desks. (…this used to be nuclear attack protection step #1)

· Assess and document any injuries.

· Move the kids out of the room in small groups.

· Roll Call.

· Wait for the “all clear”.

My updated emergency briefing this morning was instruction on how to fill out the damage (presumably while the building is still rockin’) report. I then have to wait (presumably while the building is crumbling down) until someone comes to the classroom to pick up “said form” to return to the official in charge.

(Note that while the kids are still “ducking and covering”, I’m walking around taking notes without even so much as a hard hat.)

We are then supposed to wait until someone comes back to tell us to leave the building in an orderly, quiet manner. In groups of five, they walk to a designated assembly area away from the building where I call a 2nd kid inventory.

Today’s “scheduled surprise disaster” was supposed to come off sometime around 09:00am when, according the lesson plan, 60% of the students in this class were in other classrooms for math while being replaced with kids from two other classes.

Guess how accurate the “emergency roll call inventory” report would be during the real thing? So for the sake of simplicity, the other 4th grade teachers decided to delay the math lesson until after the drill.

The scheduled earthquake didn’t hit until 09:45am this morning. The kids didn’t exit the building for another 10 minutes, while the emergency paperwork was completed and transported to disaster central.

With the entire school successfully assembled in their designated disaster lines, we re-inventory heads to establish that nobody remained in the building. Now we’re left waiting for the “all clear” announcement.

We wait 5…10…15…20…TWENTY-FIVE minutes before they called it a success.

The delay, it seems, was due to the inability of the other nineteen schools to execute this synchronize district wide evacuation plan in one massive, coordinated effort.

I’m just glad that my 4th graders had good bladder control because the school bathrooms were off limits for the duration.

One Kindergarten teacher, on the other hand, wasn’t so fortunate.

One of her little guys really, really had to go and her request for an emergency bathroom exception was turned down which resulted in a predictable result.

I would have really liked to listen in on the phone call home to “Mom” explaining the reason why little Billy needed a change of underwear and pants today.

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