Oak Park High School
Disaster Procedures FAQs
On October 17th, Oak Park High School will participate in California’s Great Shake Out, the Statewide Earthquake Drill. So, this month is a good time to review our school’s emergency preparedness, procedures, and responses for the different types of emergency situations. The PFA is instrumental in our Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Preparedness Chair; Angela Wells heads the committee that monitors and replenishes the emergency supplies in the classrooms and in the disaster bins. Assistant Principal, Jason Meskis coordinates the school safety plan and heads the School Safety Committee.
What is the most important point that the parents should remember in an emergency situation?
School is the second safest place for your child. The first place, and the place that we know your children want to be, is home. We ask parents to reinforce how important it is for students to follow the directives of staff. The greatest threat to everyone’s safety after a disaster is the panic and irrational behavior of unprepared people. Parents should talk to their children, make a plan, and listen to emergency officials. Students, staff and parents should keep an emergency backpack in their car containing a change of clothes and essential safety supplies such as a first aid kit, a flashlight with spare batteries, and water.
What are the types of emergencies for which the high school develops plans?
The three broad categories of emergencies that the high school prepares for are fire, shelter in place and major disaster. Fire emergencies include brush or building fires on or near the campus, and explosions. Shelter in place preparedness involves responding to a situation where a dangerous intruder is on campus or in the school vicinity; a major chemical spill on campus or in the area; and a bomb threat. A major disaster covers emergencies such as earthquakes, plane crashes, and severe weather.
In the event of a fire on campus, how does the school respond?
The fire alarms will sound. Students and staff evacuate the buildings and follow our fire drill plan. Specifically, students will move with their teachers to the football field using routes as indicated on each classroom evacuation map. Staff will then take roll and either wait for the fire department to arrive and give further direction, or allow students to return to class when the “all clear” signal is sounded. If the students and staff are unable to return to class, parents will be notified by the district’s automated all-call phone system and, if feasible, students will be sent home. Specific information will continue to be communicated through the district’s all-call phone system and through the district and/or high school web site.
What happens at the school in the event that students and staff need to shelter in place at the school?
We use the term Shelter in Place for our lockdown procedures to identify situations when we want students, staff, and campus guests to remain secured in a locked location and remain either where they are or quickly move to the nearest secure building or room. This may occur in a situation involving an intruder, a weapon on campus, gunfire, severe storm, or hazardous materials. When we need to protect our students and staff from these kinds of hazards, our staff will secure all buildings, lock all doors and, await further instructions. A continuous bell will be sounded and the announcement to signal staff and students to stay inside, or if outside, to move inside the nearest available room. Administrators are assigned to zones and will “sweep” the campus to ensure everybody is inside a locked room. The initial purpose of a “shelter in place” is to isolate an intruder and remove any potential target from view. We will take roll to account for all students and staff. In the case of a hazardous materials spill, teachers will seal windows and doors. The “all clear” will come in the form of announcement that the condition has been identified and resolved.
Have provisions been made in the case that students are sheltered for an extended period of time?
Each classroom contains emergency kits that contain provisions for each classroom to sustain all students for up to 72 hours. The kit includes such things as water, food, a sanitation system with privacy screen, 12-hour light sticks, extensive first aid supplies and an evacuation map.
What would happen if there was a natural disaster or catastrophic event and the students were unable leave campus, or, for safety reasons, were required to remain on campus for an extended period of time?
Students would be moved to a safe location, where teachers would remain with the students until such time we deem it prudent to release them. We will take roll and account for all staff and students while our emergency disaster teams, such as our Site Emergency Response Team organize and assess the situation. The high school has provisions to accommodate students and staff on campus for several days. These supplies are checked on a regular basis and are kept in large secured bins on the campus. When it becomes feasible to release students to parents or guardians, a reunion gate will be set-up. As soon as possible, the nature of the emergency and the plans to handle it will be communicated to parents and our community through the emergency broadcasting stations in Ventura, the district’s all-call phone system or the school/district web site.
Are OPHS teachers or staff trained in emergency management and procedures?
Our staff has been trained on emergency procedures and is well prepared to respond to any possible life-threatening situation. Many members of our staff, including all physical education teachers, coaches, campus supervisors, administrators, students, and support staff completed have CPR and CERT training. The school’s safety committee continues to meet to review and refine our school safety plan. As a District, we continue to review and practice safety procedures and preparedness.
Do OPHS students participate in fire or emergency drills so that they become familiar with the school’s safety plan and procedures?
Throughout the course of the year, our students and staff participate in emergency drills: fire, earthquake and practice sheltering in place. We will be participating in the Statewide Great Shake Out on October 17, when we will practice drop and cover. Following the drill, our Administration and school safety committee conducts a full review of the drill and follows up with feedback to our staff as to how the practice can be improved. Each classroom has a kit that outlines basic emergency responses and clearly highlights the evacuation route for that class. Parents are asked to encourage their children to look at the evacuation map that is posted in each class.
Your support of PFA helps provide for emergencies. PFA buys and replenishes supplies in the classroom emergency boxes and in the disaster bins and duffle bags. PFA also has increased our amounts of water on campus in case of an emergency.
One of the features of the modern day emergency situations is the use of cell phones. It is very likely that in the event of an actual emergency, students will call their parents, and that parents will want to show up and collect their child. Parents should follow the instructions and procedures that the school gives regarding student releases. Usually, students will be released from the football field after we have accounted for everybody. Parents should not enter the classrooms and buildings looking for their child or taking their child before we’ve accounted for him or her. Our resources and emergency response teams need to be used to search for students who are unaccounted for and to treat students who may need emergency medical attention.
Of course, we hope that we do not have to use these measures and supplies in a real emergency situation, but student safety is our number one priority. Disaster preparedness is as much a critical part of school as is college preparedness, and with your support we will continue to be successful on both fronts.