Evacuation practice at QCSS

  • Apr. 30, 2010 2:00 p.m.

By Evelyn von Almassy–At 1 o’clock on Thursday, April 22, everyone in the building evacuated the high school in Queen Charlotte. This was not because of any incident, but because they were practising a skill for the future. I spoke with Kevin May, the vice-principal, right after the school-wide evacuation. There were 146 students and all the staff were involved in this exercise. The evacuation began with the words “earthquake, earthquake, earthquake” clearly spoken over the school’s public address system. After that, the people in the classrooms ducked, covered their heads and held onto something. The people in the halls squatted against the wall and covered their heads as well. The stayed like that for 60 seconds, until the words “evacuate, evacuate, evacuate” came over the p.a. At this time everyone left the building as they would have in a fire drill. Megan Romas, Stephen Querengesser, both with first aid tickets, and Kevin are the “Sweep Team” which remained in the school to assist with the evacuation of special needs students. They did a sweep of the school and the grounds, making sure that no one was left behind. Stephanie Hedley-Smith and Karl Puls are the two teachers whoi checked that “Evacuation Alley” (8th Street) was clear, before the students were moved from the field. After attendance was taken, the students and staff walked to the PEP assembly area (the top of 8th Street). Kevin said they learned they could do it quickly. (They were all out of the school, into the field and to the top of the road in twenty minutes.) They learned they need two more walkie-talkies for better communication. During “Earthquake Awareness Week” in May they will be doing the drill again.The students and staff will be told in advance when this will happen. Kevin said this exercise was done very well, and that they will also be practising a “lock-down” drill before the end of the school year.