Archive for the ‘Safety Drills’ Category

A Lifetime of Drills, and Not the Tool Kind   4 comments

One of the many articles I read in  aftermath of last week’s tragedy in Colorado posed the question

“Are the days when we can just walk up to a movie complex,  buy a ticket, and go to our seats without passing through any security nearing an end.”

The author went on to say probably not if we consider the measures taken following Columbine serve as a gauge.  Some schools went so far as to install metal detectors but the passing of thirteen years dulled the vigilance and all that remains are lock-down drills which vary from school to school.

Just what is a  lock-down drill?

At a couple of school in the Denver area, when the alarm bell rings   students  close the doors of their classrooms, draw the blinds, and cover any glass door-panes with black construction paper, then proceed to the farthest corner to hunker down until the all-clear bell. Reading about it sent chills down my spine. But then I have a history with drills.

Air raid drills

The word drill, when partnered with Air Raid, is a nightmare of a memory. It  the mid -50’s , (OK, the early  50’s ). The Korean War occupied the nightly news. Film clips of planes and soldiers filled our 10” TV screen,

and President Eisenhower gave speeches about the evil Russians and bombs.

The Cold  War was just starting to brew (freeze?) And I was an impressionable six-year-old .Air raid drills were a regular part of the school year.  The bell in the hall would ring and Sister Anita would announce “Air Raid Drill. Get under your desks.” Now, from my advanced adult status, I ask you –

What good would getting under your tiny wooden first grade desk do?

Mark the spot where your tiny body would be found in the rubble of bricks?

But back then I’d think

Oh no, Daddy’s at work? What’s going to happen to him. And Mommy and my new baby brother, I’m never going to see them again.

if a plane just happened to be flying overhead…… well, I was a mess, then.

Fire drills

didn’t bother me back then. After all, you could see there was no smoke. However when I was on the other side of the desk (as we teacher types refer to our profession), fire drills, if not the bane of my existence, came very close

First off, I had no warning when one would occur but when it did you could bet it would be  one of those rare and precious moments when I had the rapt attention of every one of my Kindergarteners,  that glorious teachable moment I’d been striving  toward all year. The alarm would sound and those still  little forms would erupt in a frenzy, filled with cries of “Fire Drill!  Fire drill!”

I’d   designate my most dependable student to lead the line and follow the preceding class down the steps to the street. I’d bring up the rear, close the door behind me, start down the stairs and remember. Oh @#!%!!  the attendance book! This called for a rapid about-face to retrieve it from my desk.

You see, God forbid it’s the real thing, the teacher must take attendance when the class is in a safe place, for you  must account for each child, and  in the confusion and panic you would not want to go searching for a student who was absent that day. I’m not sure if it’s law but I’ve taught in New York and California and the practice was mandatory in both states.

Speaking of California, there we had  …..

 Earthquake Drills .

Also called Duck and Cover, these drills were identical to the dreaded air raid drills of my own early days. While living in California in 1989 I experienced the famous Loma Prieta earthquake. Baseball fans remember it  interrupted the World Series. The 7.1 quake resulted in the collapse of a freeway, toppled chimneys, and houses  destroyed when they slid off their foundations. Tragically, a couple of people lost their lives.

The quake also changed the drill procedure, and even its name. Luckily enough it occurred at 5:04 PM, after most schools were closed. But college and Adult Ed classes were in session so the students ducked under their desks and covered their heads with their arms to wait out the shaking which seemed like it was never going to end. But when it was finally over and the all clear call was made, they were no longer under their desks.  The temblor’s vibrations had set the desks skittering away.

And so Duck and  Cover Drills became part of history. The alarm still sounds and students still duck but they don’t cover. They hold on to the desk legs to keep their desk from “walking  away. The edited drill is now called….

Duck, Cover, and Hold

So there you have it – so many drills, and not  a single hole!

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