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COLUMN: If it hadn’t been a drill, I wouldn’t be here

Fire drills like this one are easy.  What happens when it isn't so easy?

Lauren Grimaldi

Fire drills like this one are easy. What happens when it isn't so easy?

McKenna Powers, Staff Reporter

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On Friday, September 13th, Riverside Brookfield High School had an unannounced intruder drill. It was the first lockdown drill of the 2013-2014 school year.

The drill took place at the beginning of second hour, and unfortunately, I had asked to use the restroom.  That’s where I was when the drill began.  In the bathrooms, there are no speakers, making it incredibly hard to hear the announcements.  I left the bathroom shortly after the announcement, not realizing anything had been said.

Lucky for me, it was just a drill.

Another girl, also in the bathroom at the same time that I was and similarly unaware of the drill, was locked out of her classroom too.

Teachers tell us to run to the nearest classroom, but – understandably – they lock their doors a couple of seconds after being notified of a drill.  So, how could I run into a classroom?  I wasn’t able to.

For us, a security guard opened a classroom door and we were scolded for not being where we were supposed to be at the appropriate time.  But what were we supposed to do?  I could not hear the announcement, the doors were locked, and there was nowhere to go.

What was I supposed to do if this situation were real?

Other teachers have told me, if I am in that situation, to walk outside.  I do not agree.  What if there are more dangerous people waiting outside?  I would be in the same amount of danger outside as inside.  At least inside, I would not be in an open area.

Even though this was only a drill, I wonder what would have happened if this was reality. I would have been killed.  My instinct is to want the school administration to have more plans for us students about what to do if we are stuck in this kind of situation.

It’s a scary thing to think about, but we – and I – need to learn from what happened last Friday.  The whole school commuity needs to keep improving its response so that the next time, when it could be a real intruder, we will be more prepared.

Beyond being prepared for lockdown drills, we need to keep looking at being prepared for other disaster drills.

I have practiced fire drills since I was a young child, and almost anyone can do them in their sleep, so I believe we are fine there, but we could improve on our response to tornado drills.

Last school year, during our tornado drill, I also felt unprepared.  Teachers were unsure of where to take their students.  There were too many students for all of them to fit downstairs where it was safe.  Students complained about being stuck in the Science hallway, about not being able to get downstairs due to slow traffic.  Some students even ended up sitting in front of glass doors.

We can all do better.

It must be incredibly difficult, if not impossible, for everything to be completely perfect and for everyone to be safe in one of these situations.  I know that the staff and security guards play a huge role in keeping us all safe.  I just hope that we all learn from these practice drills.

We need to be as prepared as we can be in case something actually does happen.

Having survived the school’s first unannounced lockdown drill, questions still linger in my mind.  How will we all change?  How will we learn from what happened?  What can we all do so that everyone, students included, can be safe?

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Free of Bull, Full of Bulldogs
COLUMN: If it hadn’t been a drill, I wouldn’t be here