Thursday, September 19, 2013

Lock It Down

Turn on the national news at 6:30 on any given evening. Chances are, the top story will regard some sort of crisis somewhere in the world. Too often, those crises involve schools and children.

Tragedy can strike seemingly anywhere. People are generally able to stay wrapped up in their own worlds. They feel safe. They believe that the disasters and horrors they see on the nightly news won't happen to them. But the sad truth is, no one is immune. No one is safe. While we don't want to think about the unthinkable happening, reality tells us that it's best to be prepared for these terrible situations.

Yesterday, my elementary school practiced its lock down procedures. With school shootings bordering on trendy, it's vital that faculty, staff and students know how to respond in the event that a dangerous intruder makes their way into the school.

The false emergency was scheduled to begin at 9:30. At the time, I was meeting with my supervisor in our counseling work space, one of the least secure places in the school. Our instructions were to move quickly to the nearby kitchen to lock ourselves in the pantry with the cafeteria workers. The announcement came and off we went. And there we were, locked away in Lunch Lady Land.

Early in our lock down, someone in the pantry mentioned that they had heard that it took an hour to complete the drill at another local school. Knowing that was a possibility, we settled in. And I wished I had grabbed a deck of cards before the drill began.

As it was, we were only locked away for about 20 minutes. The drill was deemed a success and we were allowed to continue our day as normal. Though I'm not sure I'd call the whole thing a success after hearing some of the behind the scenes details.

When the drill began, one of the teachers took on the role of intruder. She found a place inside the school to hide, a place that had been decided upon by the principal beforehand. The sheriff's office was called, as they would be in a real crisis.

Deputies arrived in their riot gear and searched the school for our dangerous intruder. It's a fairly small school, so it only took four officers about 12 minutes to search. Except they never found the intruder.

She was in one of several very good hiding places that the deputies just didn't check. Part of me worries that they were unable to find her. But I also realize that's why we have these drills. Now, those deputies know to look in those hiding places they didn't check. Now they'll check those spots when we have our next drill.

The kids did surprisingly well, from what I've heard. There were no panicky situations and they were able, for the most part, to sit quiet and still, as if really hiding from a bad guy. I can see now how the drill could be deemed successful.

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