BY ELO ANTONYAN
Alex Pilibos conducted its first ever comprehensive Emergency Preparedness Drill on March 14. With the help of Alina Dorian, Assistant Director for UCLA Center for Public Health and Disasters, the administration planned a three hour drill, reenacting an actual emergency, in this case an earthquake. Since last year, Pilibos has been organizing and preparing to put a comprehensive plan into effect for emergencies such as fires, earthquakes, and other disasters. In the past, our drills consisted of evacuating the classes in a timely and organized manner, but stopped at that point. This drill took it a step further, entertaining the idea of possibly hurt students and adults, how the pick-up process would work with parents.
Faculty and staff were each assigned their duties and underwent training to that effect. They, along with students, were told when the drill would take place, but no one really anticipated the extensiveness of this drill. We even enlisted the help of some parents as evaluators to observe and report what they saw and considered what was effective or not.
Around 9:30 a.m. the emergency bell rang for 45 seconds, symbolizing the duration of an earthquake. The teachers from Pre-K to 12th grade instructed their classes to “Drop, Cover, and Hold” as they had practiced in the past. After the bell, the classes proceeded down to their designated meeting areas on campus. Once all the classes had assembled and teachers had taken roll to make sure all were present, team leaders assembled and began their tasks in “Security and Safety,” “Search and Rescue,” “Planning,” “Student and Staff Accounting,” “Medical,” “Student Care.”
Students and adults were randomly selected to play the parts of victims, with minor injuries such as scraped knees, to major injuries such as head injuries and unconscious states. Search and Rescue team members geared up in their vests and hard hats in search of the victims and returned them to the medical station for evaluation and treatment.
Student and staff accounting took their places at the “Sign-in” gates and “Sign-out” gates, with rosters and emergency information for each student.
Support Services enlisted the help of students to set up tents and temporary bathrooms to equip our campus with necessary refuge areas. They also prepared drink and food to pass around to the entire student body, faculty, and staff.
All in all, we were very pleased with the results of the drill. Most were unsure as to exactly what to expect, which would definitely be the case in a real emergency situation. We would like to thank and congratulate all of our faculty, staff, and students for their participation, level of seriousness and responsibility, and effort to work as a team. We were especially impressed with the students’ attitude and composure during the process. Their willingness to help and participate was outstanding and greatly appreciated. Not only did they assist during the drill, a group of students also assisted after the drill was over, cleaning up, taking down the tents and re-organizing the emergency bins.
We hope all will participate and approach future drills with the same level of commitment. Thanks to our parent evaluators and the recommendations of our faculty and staff, we can update and better our plan in case of an actual emergency. Future drills will not be announced as we test the preparedness of our school.
Watch Horizon TV online Tonight from 8to 8:30 p.m. Pacific time for coverage of this event.