How to handle critical situations

ASHLEY COLLINS PHOTO

by Morgan Rullmann.

After a mysterious package was found in March on the north campus, the Freshman Academy was evacuated and police secured the area where the box was located while the container was searched.

“Our first priority was the students’ safety. That’s why we evacuated to the auditorium,” Principal Jay Pickering said.

Dangerous situations can occur at any school, and the reaction to threats can affect lives. The box was eventually deemed harmless, but the bomb scare led to questions about the school’s capability of dealing with crisis situations. The spontaneity of natural disasters and school violence creates an unstable environment safeguarded by plans made through careful foresight. Teachers and students are to follow the crisis procedures outlined in the flip charts posted in every classroom.

Tornadoes, frequent visitors to Arkansas, have the capability of devastating entire communities with their awesome power. As has already been demonstrated, trailers are easy targets for tornadoes temperamental tantrums, and the portables located on north campus are no exception.

“They aren’t very sturdy,” Pickering said.

In the case of a tornado, students attending class in the portables will be relocated to a more secure location, such as the auditorium or a nearby building.

According to Pickering, weather radars allow administrators to monitor the movement of potential natural disasters and alert faculty when severe weather hits Arkadelphia.

If campus were to be decimated by a natural disaster, a general assembly would be held at the football stadium or in the auditorium to account for students and staff. The emergency response team would arrive along with fire trucks and if needed, volunteers from other squads to search for the missing, and those found injured would be identified and treated while their parents were being notified. Police presence will also prevent the mass of students from committing terror-driven crimes such as after Hurricane Katrina when a string of still unsolved felonies were committed out of fear and opportunity.

Concerning a hostage situation, resource officer Kyle Dunn couldn’t disclose too much information.

“The authorities are notified and the negotiation team arrives along with the emergency response team,” Dunn said.

If the threatening individual is outside, students will be herded into locked dark classrooms and instructed to stay hidden out of view from all windows. If the potential danger is inside, all buildings will be evacuated to a location deemed safe while the police arrive to address the issue. A classroom held hostage by an intruder should behave calmly, and communication should be kept in a low, soothing voice, during which the teacher or supervisor present will request that the students be allowed to evacuate. It’s advised to never attempt to physically confront a violent individual unless other students are in imminent danger.

Teachers’ main priority in a dangerous situation is to protect the group of students, not the individual. If a lockdown took place while a student was in the bathroom, teachers have been instructed to stay with their current class and lock all doors, leaving any wandering students out in a possibly dangerous situation.

“It’s really tough fighting the instinct to protect a student,” journalism adviser Margaret Sorrows said.

The Notify Me system employed by the Bryant School District allows parents to stay in touch with administrators in an emergency situation.

“Everyone has to do their part; communication is key,” Pickering said.

In crisis situations, parents who receive rumor-driven information from children often become frantic and immediately organize a “rescue” attempt. Since information passes through first police and administrators before reaching parents, these uninformed hastily thrown together missions interfere with professional protection and serve as distractions.

Administrators work with police to ensure the safety of all here. In any threatening situation or when a crime in any capacity has been committed, control is immediately given to the authorities qualified to deal with the various aspects of school security. In emergency situations, school officials focus on organizing the indirectly affected and informing all third parties of what is occurring.

Jake Knight

Jake is a third-year journalism student and a second-year editor of Prospective. He designs pages, writes stories and contributes to Prospective Online. He is the president of National Honor Society and a member of Youth Alive. When he's not working at Chick-fil-A, you will probably find him with his youth group from Ironton Baptist Church. Twitter: @jakeknight3 

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