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School disaster drills become a learning experience for administrators as well as kids

Creekview students wait patiently for parents to arrive at the nearby LDS church.
A lesson learned: A computerized form parental permission system would be better than what was used.

Sun Advocate publisher


Sounds like the word that might describe a religion or even a rock group.

But what it means is safety for kids, and relief for parents. Particularly if there were a disaster in town.

On Thursday Carbon School District tested the entire reunification plan at Creekview Elementary and they found that a few bumps along the way made the process a learning experience.

"We are seeing some things that we need to correct," said Ken Labrum as he stood in the foyer of the LDS Church near the school, where the reunification drill was being held.

Reunification plans have been under way for some time in the district. Each school has a plan in case an emergency evacuation of that building needs to be done. All schools have designated routes they are to follow if possible and a designated place for all students to go, in an orderly fashion.

Thursday's test of the system showed that bottlenecks can be a problem. The foyer at the church was too small for the number of parents that showed up to come in and check out their kids. At time the lines for picking up students stretched out into the street. The system was a little slow and it took awhile.

"We are learning a lot from this," said Carbon District Superintendent Steve Carlson, who was also there. "This is why we are doing this. To see what works and what doesn't."

In the drill on Thursday, there was no holding back. Roads were blocked by police cars for some distance around the church and parents had to park past those road blocks and walk in to get their children. Meanwhile school buses showed up and took bus students away to their regular stops. That was the reason for holding the drill late in the afternoon, so it would not disrupt school more than it had to.

While parents were coming to the church to check out their children, the kids milled around in the church's cultural hall, some reading others just talking to their friends.

There were some parents that were upset by the drill and the way it went, but most seemed to take it in stride. Some even left with smiles on their faces.

Price Police Chief Kevin Drolc and Captain Bill Barnes manned the front door to help with expediting the process. Inside school district personnel had parent sign for their children. Only parents or designated persons could pick up the kids.

"People see the confusion here right now, imagine what it would be like in a real emergency," said Carbon District Special Programs Director Robert Cox who was also present. "This is why doing this is a good thing."

The program is being set up and run at all schools in the next few weeks. All will test the system and probably some peoples patience. But as district officials noted it is better to find the problems beforehand than in a real emergency.

On Monday morning Labrum said that there was going to be a meeting concerning what happened, but that he thought things had gone generally well.

"We can take things from the Creekview experience and use it to help us at our other schools," he said. "Mostly we had positive feedback on the drill."

He added that some of the things they found that they need to do better included that they didn't have enough people at the front table to handle all the parents requests and that instead of using notebooks to record parents signatures to pick up the children, they needed a computerized list that parents could just sign after they showed their identification.

"We have a lot of work to do yet, but I think what we do this spring will help with those that will participate in the drill next fall," he said.

John Thomas, the Principal at Creekview said he appreciated everyone that helped out and the parents as well.

"I just appreciate the patience everyone had," he said. "I think it was a great exercise and I want to say how much the police, district personnel and the parents reacted to it. It was a great joint effort."

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