Unplanned crisis drills put safety in the spotlight

Students file out of school during an unannounced fire drill

Students file out of school during an unannounced fire drill

Nick Cundari, News Editor

Feeling safe in school is something many students take for granted. On a daily basis, most students don’t think about what they would do in the event of a fire, tornado, or any other crisis that could affect the building. Students typically go about their day, and the thought never even enters their minds.

In the past, crisis drills were planned, and teachers were warned ahead of time. One student would hear a rumor, and suddenly every student in the school would know that there would be a fire drill during 5th hour that day.

Assistant Principal John Passarella wants to change that.

“I want there to be a real crisis feeling,” Passarella said, “I want students and staff to understand what it would really be like if something like this ever actually happened.”

Passarella’s plan for achieving this “crisis feeling” is through unannounced fire, tornado, and intruder drills.

“I don’t want everyone to be comfortable when we have these drills. Its easy when kids are sitting in class, but I want students and staff to be able to think when they aren’t together,” Passarella said.

In a recent intruder drill, this new style of drill was tested. During the passing period between 1st and 2nd hour on September 7, an announcement was made over the intercom that the school was in a lock down situation. Students and staff responded brilliantly and did exactly what they were expected to do.

“I was caught very off guard,” Senior Alise Battistoni said, “I ran into the closest classroom and the teacher was showing us all where to go.”

School administration has even created an online “cheat sheet” for any non students or teachers who may be visiting or spending long periods of time in the building. By going to the home page of www.rbhs208.net , all a visitor needs to do is pull down the “Community” tab, and the first link takes you to the school’s emergency response procedures.

Not only is there an online “cheat sheet” for visitors, but teachers have also been equipped with a blue folder in each classroom. Each folder has the rosters of every class that is in that room throughout the day, as well as their own personal cheat sheet for crisis drills and situations.

Another new addition to crisis safety is the introduction of a more organized fire evacuation system. Once students have fully exited the building, they are instructed by their teacher to form lines so that attendance can be taken, and the staff can determine who is unaccounted for.

“There’s more than one answer to every crisis situation,” Passarella said, “I want students and staff ultimately to feel comfortable.”