What Emergency Plans Do Schools Have in Place When Severe Weather Hits? - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

05/22/07

What Emergency Plans Do Schools Have in Place When Severe Weather Hits?

Today, we want to continue our storm preparedness week by going into schools and show you what emergency plans are in place to keep your children safe during the worst types of weather.

The sound of a tornado drill inside the school might scare just about anyone, but the students here at Mercer middle school know exactly what to do when they hear it.

It means a tornado is close by and students need move out of the classroom and into their assigned safe place.

Mercer Middle school principal Gloria Dukes says she knows a tornado or storm can move in quickly.

"It's important children understand the procedures and how and what you should do during those procedures," said Dukes.

Dukes says she often thinks about what happened a couple months ago when a tornado ripped through Enterprise, Alabama. Hitting the high school, killing 8 students and destroying most of the building she hopes students at Mercer understand just how real a deadly storm can be.

"Quickly, Quickly that's why we are practicing on regular basis and make sure our children know how important it is," said Dukes.

But moving the more than 800 students quickly can be challenging hectic hallways filled with scurrying students it has the potential to be very chaotic.

"That's why you see teachers going up and down the hallway saying assume the position. stop talking and it's a constant reminder of what could happen," said Dukes.

Administrators like Gloria are faced with another challenge this year the position for a tornado drill is different, instead of facing toward the wall the students are sitting down and this is supposed to better protect the students.

"It makes better sense that students are positioned differently faced forward knees are drawn up as opposed to backs and derrieres are in the air," said Dukes.

And with this change students like Anthony Corrian are happy administrators allow time for them to practice.

"A tornado drill is a great help because if we had a tornado and didn't know what the position was we could get hurt," said Corrian.

"Confident not comfortable because it hasn't happened and until we're put into a real situation we don't know what can happen," said Dukes.

By all accounts the drill went well, but Gloria Dukes' work is not over. Under the Savannah Chatham school district's emergency response plan, Dukes must now report the results of the drill , what the kids did right, and what they did wrong. Rob Gordon the district's risk management director gets that report.

"We look at that and see where we are and we do evaluate - we have crisis management teams in all of our schools and we have teams to write up problems," said Gordon.

The school district is continuing to come up with emergency response plans everyday. In fact starting next year each classroom will have it's own emergency response book. The book lets teachers know what they need to do during any type of emergency from a fire, to a bomb threat, and tornado.

That's not all, each school building has at least two emergency kits containing flashlights, first aid supplies, keys to all rooms, notepads, and a copy of the school's emergency plans. Really just about everything administrators may need in an emergency.

As students head back to class, they feel confident they know what to do even if the next time is the real thing.

"Just in case it comes out of the blue- we're ready," said Corrian.

Reported by: Brooke Kelley, bkelley@wtoc.com

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