Emergency (Not So) Preparedness

On Friday, October 10, the students of San Juan Hills High School were herded like cattle to the Badlands as they took part in the first evacuation drill of the year. Throughout the duration of this process, we heard the typical rhetoric coming from the mouths of the students (including my own).

We all wondered why we gather on the football field when other places on campus would be safer depending on the location on the fire. We all wondered why we would go outside if there was an earthquake occurring. We all even wondered if there is a backup plan in the event that the football field was not the safest place to congregate.

Clearly, there has been much miscommunication with the students of this school regarding emergency preparedness. As I begin my fourth year at this education facility, I still do not know the answers to the above questions, among others.

I had the opportunity to interview Mr. Jindra regarding this topic and, contrary to what I thought and what many of my peers thought, there are alternate courses of action prepared should a particular emergency arise which does not correspond with the method previously taught to the students.

“The unique thing about the way we line up down there [is that the formation practiced on the football field] can happen anywhere. We could evacuate…on the quad. If there’s a fire in the brush right there, we’re gonna stay indoors because we’ve got a state-of-the-art facility here with water and all that. If there’s something on the football field, we’re not going there. We’re gonna go up to the baseball field…I would have to go on the announcements and say, ‘Look, we’re gonna evacuate to this location. If there’s a fire outdoors, I would say it’s gonna take a whole lot of danger to get us out of the building. We would lock down,” said Jindra.

He continued, “I have ways of exit–avenues of escape in all four directions from here…We can go down La Pata if we have to walk…we can go down the fire trail, [etc.]”

I, for one, had never heard of these alternate methods of evacuation before. In the event that a real life-threatening situation should come to pass, there would definitely be panic on campus. I doubt that, when placed under dire circumstances, students would be able to maintain the proper composure to evacuate in an organized, efficient manner to hear and comply with an announcement made over the loudspeakers.

“What I would probably do is…first duck somewhere where it’s safe, and then once I know everything’s okay and they say it’s okay, then I’d probably go out to the field,” said Madison Roush (12).

“I’m just gonna go to the hills [if a real fire occurs], TBH….  Dude, I’m in cross country. I could run to my house,” said Ethan Clarke (9).

“[In the event of a fire], I’d run to the ASB store because they have lots of…clothes and stuff to protect my skin from the fire, and then I’d go to the cafeteria so I don’t get hungry while I’m running down the fire trail in my ASB clothes to safety,” said Luke Chavez (12).

“If it was a close fire, I believe that…many [students] would panic because it’s a real-life situation…and probably either go out to their cars or…most of us would go down to the field…I’ve heard some people mention about [leaving campus]. [They have said that their reaction would be,] ‘Eff this, I’m going to my car,’” said Carlos Muñoz (12).

As seen in the statements above, there is not an unequivocal understanding when it comes to how to react in the event of an emergency.

It is necessary to be prepared for disaster, and the school must be more proactive in making sure that the students are informed that disaster can take many forms and thus must be responded to in corresponding manners.