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Principals Message

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Principal’s Message

Date: October 23, 2011 Author: admin Categories: Principals Message

Hello BA Community.

On Thursday, 10/20 at 10:20, schools all across California rehearsed emergency preparedness for a major earthquake. I’m happy to report our drill at Brittan Acres went very smoothly, and that the process allowed us to learn more about how we will be ready, should school be in session, when “the Big One” strikes.

10:20 “Earthquake” and Evacuation
At 10:20, with Sheriff’s Deputy Craig McCarty observing in the front office, I addressed the school using our recently upgraded all-call system that is now audible in every building, classroom, and school area. The imaginary quake lasted about 2 minutes, during which all adults and students followed our protocol to “Drop, Cover, and Hold On.” When the shaking ended, teachers lined up their classrooms and made orderly evacuations to our assembly area on the upper playground. Within minutes we were assembled as a school, with teachers taking roll and writing “All here” or the names of missing children on 5×8 cards, which were collected and brought to our Command Post at the ball wall.

10:26 Response Teams Form
T
he Command Post and Operations/Logistics Teams hooked up our district radio to a backup battery to establish communications with the district office. They opened the big blue container and accessed emergency water, food, first aid equipment and supplies, and tables for the Command Post. Meanwhile, our staff mobilized into Response Teams including:

  • Assembly Area Team (to watch over the children)
  • Entrance Security Teams (to close the campus, meet emergency crews, and direct parents seeking children to the Tamarack Playground entrance)
  • Search and Rescue Teams (to check assigned classrooms and buildings and find missing children and adults)
  • First Aid/Triage Team (to treat any injured children and adults)
  • Facilities Safety Personnel (to shut off gas and possibly electrical lines and cordon off dangerous areas)
  • Student Release Team (to check students out to their families or emergency contacts at the Tamarack Playground gate)

10:32 Teams React to Three Pre-Staged Incidents
Twelve minutes after the Earthquake first began, hand-held radio equipped teams were implementing their response duties.

  • 10:34   A radio message from custodian Sergio Criollo announced a major gas leak at the main valve, warning all response crews to stay clear of the area while he shut off the valves.
  • 10:37   A radio message from Search and Rescue reported learning from Entrance Security that an adult was down in the front office. The next message was the team’s discovery of Shanghai Principal Lily Xu in the office hallway with a broken leg. The team obtained a stretcher and lifted her to the First Aid station behind the ball wall, where she was immediately treated for shock with blankets while a splint was applied to her broken bone.
  • 10:41   After an extensive search, a staged “missing” student was discovered reading quietly in Rm. 15, where she had allegedly gone after arriving to school from her dentist appointment–after the earthquake evacuation, but before the gates had been locked. She was determined to be confused but in good health, and was reunited with her classmates at the assembly area.

Backup Battery Boosted
During the commotion, the Command Post realized the District Radio had gone quiet–the backup battery was out of juice. Mr. Criollo was sent for his vehicle to access its battery, but before he could bring it, a district maintenance truck appeared at our Tamarack Entrance, having been dispatched from Heather School to find out why BA had gone silent. Within moments our radio was hooked up to the truck’s battery, and we were able to communicate our situation to Dr. Baker and his team at the District Office. Our drill ended at 10:47 with bullhorn announcements thanking all children and personnel for the specific roles they had played in our preparedness exercise.

Review, Improvement, Readiness
Staff was asked to make notes during and after the drill specific to areas for our improvement, and we are dedicating our staff meeting Tuesday to a review of our response. We are proud of the progress we’ve made in our emergency preparedness at Brittan Acres and in the District, but we also know we have room to improve.

Our next District-wide Earthquake Drill is scheduled for March 16. Between now and then, all of us should take time to prepare our homes and workplaces for the quake we all know is coming—sooner or later!

Best,
John Triska