Director's Dispatch--Drill Debriefing.

posted Dec 9, 2011, 8:48 AM by Marylene, MICHELET

Thank you all for your participation in this week's evacuation drill. Again, we feel this is an important exercise, given upcoming elections and our overall emergency preparedness. We had two main goals and we did very well on one, and not as well on the other. We had hoped to evacuate the campus in 60 minutes. After 60 minutes, we had about 90% of students picked up and away. We had only nine children not picked up, which was better than expected. Our second goal was that cars would only wait 1 minute in the drive thru. On this, we missed our target rather widely. This seems to have been due to both communication and execution, and we are aiming to resolve this issue and limit the wait for cars in the road and driveway.

Things we learned:
  • We need more practice with walkie-talkies or a better means of communicating between teachers on campus.
  • We need clearer pick up stations for retrieving students at the gate and an easier way of signing kids out from cars. 
  • We should look at grouping siblings together for easier release to vehicles.
  • We should station homeroom teachers as runners--they know where the kids are; TAs don't always know.
  • Those picking up must know homeroom, grade, and student names. We might facilitate this with 'visor signs' for cars with this information visible from outside the car by school personnel.
  • We have a very helpful staff--people were helping out where help was needed, many folks were thinking rapidly on their feet, and we made the best of a difficult situation.
  • While it was a stressful situation for parents, we also have a generally very polite parent community and folks were understanding about the drill.
  • Stress can alter our perceptions: at 2:08, one parent shared with me that she had been waiting in her car for an hour and a half....the SMS was sent at 1pm. 
Overall, I think we can feel positive--we evacuated the campus quickly and without major incident, and we learned what we need to do to make the drill more efficient next time. Also very importantly, everyone was made to review their emergency information and planning with the school. We have learned how difficult it is for some parents to have reliable, consistent emergency contact for a full year. We ask that you continue to update us when your emergency pick up information changes and we do hope that you will try to limit your travel--and be available in Dakar--during the upcoming elections.

Thank you,

Wayne Rutherford