Green Country School Tests Out Its Disaster Plan

Tuesday, May 1st 2007, 8:18 pm
By: News On 6

If a disaster strikes, Jenks Public Schools wants to be ready. So, the district holds annual exercises to see if their emergency plans would really work. The News On 6’s Ashli Sims went to one of those drills on Tuesday. She reports Tuesday’s drill involved a toxic spill.

Here’s the scenario, a train crashes into a tanker truck not far from Jenks High School. It's spilling toxic gas into the air. The question: how do you get thousands of students out of harm's way?

"Students and staff, I'm sorry for the interruption. This is Mr. Smith. We have just been notified that there has been an accident."

Those words over the school’s PA system caused a once chatty class of students to fall silent.

“We will be evacuating the building.”

The evacuation is just a drill. More than 200 students, staff members and volunteers played along to help Jenks test their emergency plans. They've been told an accident nearby is causing toxic chemicals to spew into the air. Superintendent Kirby Lehman says if the scenario were real, it would be a massive challenge to evacuate the high school.

"We have the equipment to do it, we have the personnel to do it, but whether or not we would have the time and the organizational capability is unknown,” he said. “That is why we have these exercises."

Teachers are told over the PA system to take roll, stay put and await further instructions. The principal then goes by each class to get a head count of the students. Then everyone is told to line up and wait for police officers to escort them to the buses.

"They come on with first announcements a lot but the fact that they kept coming on makes it kind of serious," said Jenks senior Jordan Mortenson.

Students were herded through the halls, loaded on to buses and taken out of harm's way. They regrouped at Jenks Middle School where pretend parents tried to get in to find their kids, but were held back by law enforcement. Organizers say in case of an emergency it's important to know who they have and who they're missing, before parents step in.

Overall, Superintendent Lehman says everyone earned high marks.

"We cannot prevent a catastrophe, in the event of a catastrophe, however, we can be as best a prepared as possible," said Lehman.

Dr. Lehman called Tuesday’s drill “small scale,” because it involved only one-twentieth of the high school student body and staff. But he says the practice is vital to fine-tuning emergency plans for the entire district.

Watch the video: Green Country School Puts Emergency Plan Into Action