Emergency practice seen as improvement
Classes were locked down for almost half an hour today, Nov. 11, during homeroom for scheduled Code Blue and Code Red drills. Blair security and administration determined that four classes were casualties.
Two of the classes declared casualties were supervised by substitutes who did not have keys to lock their rooms. Security Officer Mark Curran stated that the rooms were darkened and silent, but the teachers did not follow Code Red procedure, which is to move to a secure classroom if the current location "is unable to be secured." The other two classes were secured but were called down to the gym because students were making enough noise to be clearly audible from the hallway. At least one room was not checked by a member of the Blair administration.
The drills began at 12:49 p.m. and ended at 1:14 p.m., which, Curran stated, was "fairly long" for Code Blue and Red drills. The drill was extended because Principal Phillip Gainous personally spoke to each of the four casualty classrooms in the gym before the school was released from lockdown. Curran stated that most Code Red drills last between five to eight minutes.
A scheduled fire drill was cancelled following two false alarms during the past week, which forced the school to evacuate. Today also marked the first time the school has used a new MCPS procedure to report class attendance during the Code Red. Teachers were to submit their attendance via First Class, an e-mail program designed for staff.
Within the first few minutes of the Code Red, 41 attendances had been submitted out of 124 homerooms, according to Curran. Teachers also turned in attendance forms by hand at the completion of the drill, though Curran hoped that in the future, every teacher would submit the sheets via the computer.
Curran expected to have 99 percent of staff and students accounted for by the time attendance tallying was complete for the Code Red drill. This is better than the typical 90-percent accountability rate that the school has for fire drills. Usually, approximately 350 students are missing from their designated stadium locations, according to Curran. He added that this figure is dangerous because the school is obligated to send firemen into the building to rescue those students who are unaccounted.
Over the past four years, Curran has noticed an improvement in the drills. "The numbers [of casualties] are getting smaller for the Code Red. We're very accountable," he said. "I've been doing this since we got here, and I feel very comfortable."
Allison Elvove. Allison Elvove was a Co-Editor-in-Chief of Silver Chips Online during the 2004-2005 school year. She wrote more than 70 articles while on the staff and supervised 40 student journalists, editing articles on a daily basis. During her time as editor, Silver Chips Online won the … More »
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