Investigating school emergency drills

emergeny-escape-1444953Daniel Espitia Cuellar, Aztec Voice

Many students can remember having school drills since they were in elementary school, being introduced to it with little to no reason.

Some actually may think it’s as easy as just sending people outside for a fire drill or putting kids in random hallways for a tornado drill, but that isn’t the case.

For a fire drill, things have to be set up beforehand in order for students to get to where they’re supposed to be. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) suggests a few safety tips for preparing fire drills.

According to the NFPA, “Principals, teachers or other school staff must inspect all exits daily to ensure that stairways, doors and other exits are working properly and are unblocked. Every room in the school should have a map posted identifying two ways out. In schools with open floor plans, exit paths should be obvious and kept free of obstruction.”

The locations also have to be predetermined before the day of the drill. Taking students outside is only half the work. The National Weather Service’s Storm Prediction Center (SPC) gives us some insight on how to prepare and arrange tornado drills for practice.

According to the SPC, “The most important part of tornado safety in schools, and in similar logistical arrangements such as nursing homes, is to develop a good tornado safety plan tailored to your building design and ability to move people.”

At Alta Vista High School, Vice Principal Devon Teran manages the drills. He knows where each exit is and helps fix problems with the routine.

“Here at AV, we have five fire drills, two tornado drills and one intruder drill,” Teran said. “For each one, we have students head out of one of the exits we have. When these drills are happening, I keep an eye what way works and what doesn’t [in order] to improve.”

Opinions vary on whether or not these drills are useful to students. Junior Alex Gloria thinks that this isn’t very handy for students.

“I do not find it useful at all. It wastes my time and everyone else’s time because of how long it takes to exit the building. The natural human instinct when they see the building is on fire is to get out and stay away. The drills don’t show us anything new,” said Gloria.

On the contrary, the algebra II teacher Ryan Marrs thinks drills at school are very helpful.

“I think fire and tornado drills are very useful at schools. If we didn’t show our students the routine, when there’s a real fire, our students would go up in flames, and the school would become a crematory,” said Marrs.

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