Emergency Drills Teach Safety Procedures

Emergency Drills Teach Safety Procedures
Students in Line

October 23, 2015 – America’s Safe Schools Week is a national effort to increase awareness and provide guidance on implementing emergency drills and other safety protocols in schools. In Amarillo ISD, all classrooms practice emergency drills on a regular basis so students and staff are aware of their responsibilities. Emergency drills are designed to remove students from harm’s way in anticipation of law enforcement or fire department response.

In the case of an actual emergency, school administrators will communicate the emergency with their campus. District personnel will remain in touch with appropriate government entities and release accurate and timely information to the public on the matter at hand.

Fire Drill
Established in compliance with state and local fire regulations, fire drills are conducted periodically during the school year so students and staff know what to do and where to go in case of an emergency. Fire drills do more than this however, they also ensure fire alarm systems are in working order and provide on-the-ground experience for firefighters who otherwise may not know the layout of a campus.

Because local fire departments make sure schools respond to drills appropriately and provide instruction for further action, it is imperative they understand the layout of campuses so they remain out of harm’s way as well.

“In most cases during an emergency, the difference between being a victim or a survivor is your amount of preparedness. Having an escape plan, including meeting at pre-designated areas outside, will ensure the highest success rate of getting everyone out safely,” said Captain Larry Davis, Public Information Officer for Amarillo Fire Department. “Having the drills become routine or ‘second nature’ will help reduce the amount of panic, and thereby increase safety for everyone in the event of an actual fire.”

Tornado Drill
Living in the Panhandle of Texas where weather can change rapidly, schools prepare themselves year-round for a tornado event. The City of Amarillo Emergency Management and U.S. Weather Bureau notify Amarillo ISD executive personnel of tornado warnings, and campus principals and teachers will be notified if emergency tornado conditions exist. Weather radios are also available in every main office and custodial office so alerts for Potter and Randall counties are available if there is power-loss.

Campuses conduct tornado drills so students and staff are aware of designated shelter areas. In the event of a tornado emergency, students and staff will remain in their designated shelter area until weather has passed and they may return to their classrooms.

“Each campus has a tornado plan in place. In general, we locate the building occupants in the lowest, central portion of the building. The intent is to be away from exterior windows, in the most structurally sound portions of the building, and with as many interior walls around as possible,” said Randy Smith, Safety Manager for Amarillo ISD.

Lockdown Drill
Lockdown drills are conducted throughout the school year to prepare students and staff in case of emergency. In a lockdown drill and in the event of an emergency, it is recommended teachers and other personnel be instructed to shelter in place, lock doors, shut off lights and conceal themselves from view. Just as the fire department works in conjunction with campuses on fire drills, law enforcement will partner with campus and district staff to ensure proper precautions are taken during a lockdown drill to ensure the safety of students and staff.

"Conducting lockdown drills empowers students and staff by reasonably preparing everyone for a threatening situation. Any emergency plan is only as good as the ability of the people to carry out the plan. When students and staff regularly practice the plan, they are able to effectively carry out the plan with confidence and make better decisions during an emergency.  It is imperative for students and staff to know what to do in the event an actual incident occurs,” Christina Ritter, Executive Director for Palo Duro High School Cluster.

For more information about school safety, please revisit the student handbook located on the Amarillo ISD website at http://www.amaisd.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=18930063&pageId=19301253.

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