100% Participation Necessary in Emergency Drills

Photo courtesy of Internal Auditor Website

When these alarms sound, the entire Choate community needs to know how to respond.

Recently, the Choate community has partaken in various emergency drills that are intended to prepare the students and faculty for potential dangers and threats on campus. There has been one lockdown drill, in which a person or animal may pose a threat, and one emergency assembly, which occurs in the event of potential weather or natural disasters. Although beneficial, the drills that are being conducted are not being done in a productive and orderly manner.

On September 14 at 9:00 a.m., the Choate Administration sent out a school-wide announcement that asked all students to report to the Athletic Center. Since classes do not begin until 9:40 a.m. on Thursdays, many Choate students did not participate in the drill. Many boarding students were still sleeping, and many day students were either on their way to school or still at home. It is unfair for the school to expect students to make it to a designated area of assembly during a drill if a quarter of the Choate community is not required to be one campus at the time, and many others are not able to receive the message because they are asleep. In a situation where there is an actual threat that requires a lockdown or an emergency assembly, the Choate Administration would have trouble taking account of its students if they are scattered on and off the Choate campus.

There are two improvements that the school should make in order to legitimize the drills. First, Choate needs to make sure that they are conducting the drills at a time of day when students are most likely going to be awake and on campus. Although there is never a convenient time when a disaster drill occurs, it is still important to make sure every student and faculty member at Choate goes through the emergency processes.

The Choate Administration also needs to improve its plan on announcing emergency evacuations and assemblies. School-wide texts and announcements are sent to students and faculty, but in the event of an emergency, every single Choate student and faculty member must be aware of what is happening. Therefore, in addition to announcing the emergency plans via text and email, the school should also have a designated faculty or staff member in each dorm who vocally announces the emergency plans. This will ensure that even the students who are sleeping or simply not checking their phones will be informed of the emergency procedures immediately after they are announced.

If the time ever comes when there is an actual lockdown or emergency assembly, the students and faculty of Choate must be prepared. In recent years, Choate and many other schools around the country have admirably improved their emergency plans and methods. But with a campus that is larger than many schools in the country, it is more challenging to make every person aware of the situation.

The drill on September 14 was a perfect example of why the Choate Administration should review its means of announcing emergencies to its students and faculty members. The drills that the school conducts are useful, but their emergency response plans should be improved in order to ensure the safety of the Choate community.

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