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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Evacuation drill tests schools

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

(Photo)
Cascade students walk to the baseball field to be lined up and accounted for before boarding school buses.
(T-G Photo by John I. Carney) [Order this photo]
An evacuation drill was held Tuesday morning at the Cascade High School / Cascade Middle School campus, as part of a new mutual aid agreement between Cascade and The Webb School in Bell Buckle.

The mutual aid agreement means that in the event of a disaster, students from one school would be transported to the other as a central point from which parents could pick them up. The schools would cooperate on transporting the students.

On the move

In Tuesday's drill, about 200 sixth graders and ninth graders from Cascade were evacuated from the building and lined up by class on the school's baseball field.

From there, they were loaded onto buses, most supplied by Webb, and transported to the Webb campus in Bell Buckle. At the Webb gymnasium, the students would be accounted for, and in the event of a real emergency there would be an orderly and secure process for parents to pick them up.

"One of the things we did at Webb School was hide two of the high school students once they arrived at the gym," said Scott Johnson of Bedford County Emergency Management Agency. "This was to test the school's student accountability process once they got the students into the gym. To their credit, the staff was able to accurately ID both of the missing students fairly quickly."

Simulation

During the drill, various emergency vehicles on the grounds ran lights and sirens, just as they would in a real emergency, to simulate some of the distraction and chaos that might exist in a disaster situation, according Johnson.

Johnson noted that in August, East Side School students had to be evacuated and brought to First Baptist Church on Depot Street due to a boiler leak at the school.

In a city like Shelbyville, there are more options -- such as large churches, other public schools or similar buildings -- to which a large group of children can be relocated. Rural areas don't have as many options, and so Johnson said the mutual aid agreement with Webb -- a private prep school -- benefits both institutions.

Success

Personnel from both schools, BCEMA, Bedford County Fire Department, Bedford County Sheriff's Office, and Bedford County Emergency Medical Services participated in the exercise.

Johnson said he was pleased with the results of the drill.

"We held an after action meeting with public safety and the school officials," he said, "to look at what went well and what needs to be improved upon. It actually went fairly well with only minor suggested changes."