Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Full evacuation and pick up drill

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Now that we have updated all emergency contact records for students, we will be running an evacuation and pick up drill in the first week of Term 2.

The drill will happen on Friday 5th May (end of the first week back at school in Term 2) at 2pm.  We complete earthquake, evacuation and reverse evacuation drills regularly with students across the school. The purpose of this pick up drill is to include parents and whanau  as part of our evacuation, so that the whole school community can become familiar with the process of picking students up from school in the case of an emergency. There is a particular process that we need to follow in order to do this safely and effectively, so it is good for all of us to practice the process and become familiar with it. 

We have recently had all families check and update their emergency contacts.  This is now a good way to check if the contacts we have for your child/ren are appropriate in the case of an emergency pick up. 

What will happen?

The drill will begin at 2pm with an earthquake practice for all students and staff across the school. We will then all evacuate out to the netball courts as per our standard procedure. Once we are safely evacuated, our admin team will send out a text alert to all parents to let you know that we have evacuated and we will then request that you pick up your child/ren as soon as possible. You or an allocated emergency contact will then head down to school to pick them up.  If you do not receive this text for some reason, please let Helen know (office@amesbury.school.nz). 

Whilst our teachers will remain on the courts with all students, checking they are safe and keeping them calm, our admin and leadership team will set up a contact point in front of the drop off zone, by the scooter racks. We will be directing all parents and whanau to the contact point before going to take students. 

At the contact point an admin staff member will check that you are on the list of emergency contacts for the child/ren you are picking up. Once this is verified, a staff member will go and collect the student/s and bring them to the entrance of the netball courts, and you can then take them home.  As this is a drill that we know about in advance, we will ensure all students have their jackets, shoes and bags with them. In the case of a real emergency students would not go back inside to collect their belongings - they would simply leave them at school until it is safe to pick them up at a later date. Please note that if the person picking up a student is not on their list of emergency contacts we cannot let them take the child, even if we know them. We will not be able to answer the phone to take any personal requests or to add anyone to the contact list once the drill has started, as we would not be able to do this in a real emergency. 

Why do we do this?

We deliberately keep parents and whanau separate from the children until the students have been formally signed over to an emergency contact. This is to ensure that students are only picked up by registered contacts. In the stress of a real emergency it is important we have clear protocols to follow that ensure all students are carefully monitored and that we fulfill our duty of care up until they are handed over to appropriate caregivers. 

It is possible that some people may find these protocols slow and tiresome, especially in a stressful situation. We do understand that it may be tempting just to head over and pick up your child quickly, especially if you are well known to teachers. However, we thank you in advance for following our system to ensure that all students are safe and secure, even if it takes a little time to do so. If we get used to doing this now, it will be a familiar process in the event of a real emergency. 

Please note that during the drill, if you arrive at school directly at 2pm or shortly after, there is likely to be a queue to pick up students.  Because you know of this drill in advance, many parents may be very quick to respond, perhaps heading to school before the text message is actually sent out. If this happens, it simply means there will be a queue whilst we sign students out. In the event of a real emergency the reality may well be that emergency contacts arrive in a much more staggered way.

What do I need to do for this drill?

1) Think carefully about the emergency contacts we have for your child. Do you want to add anyone to the list? You do not need to give us all of their details - simply their name and relationship to your child will suffice. We recommend having a list of up to 10 or 12 people who may be asked to pick up your child in the case of an emergency. Think of family friends, the parents of other children at school and also their emergency contacts. Let Helen know if you wish to add any contacts to your emergency contacts list. 

2) Talk to your child/ren about what would happen at school in the case of an emergency. The more you  have talked it through with them, the more familiar it will feel in the case of a real emergency. Explain to your child/ren why they will see you or their pick up person line up before they are collected, so that they do not try to run over to you when they see you. 

3) On the day of the drill, be ready to have yourself or one of your contacts pick up your child/ren once you receive the text from us to say that we are evacuating. Be prepared to be patient with the system, as it may take a little time - we operate under the premise of 'better safe than sorry'.  Even though this drill is run near to the end of the day, if at all possible we recommend that you still try and have someone pick up your child, rather than simply wait until the end of the school day. This is a good opportunity to see if you can have your child/ren picked up quickly and safely in the case of an emergency. 

What if you can't arrange to have your child picked up early?

If you are unable to arrange for your child to be picked up early, your child will simply stay at school until 3pm - staff will still be here. In this case we strongly recommend that you review your emergency plans for your children, so that they could be picked up in the case of a real emergency. At 3pm any students who are booked in with Kelly Club After School Care will be transferred over to them. Please note that we will not be sending students home on their own, even if they usually walk or cycle home alone. In a real emergency we would not do this in case we are sending students home to an empty and/or unsafe house. Students must be picked up or booked in with After School Care. 

After School Care will still be operating on this day. If you will not be using their service due to the drill, please let them know. 

If you have any questions about any of this, please contact Urs Cunningham (urs@amesbury.school.nz). 

Warm regards, 

The Amesbury team




 

By Urs Cunningham

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