Oak Creek Intermediate School went on lockdown last Friday, Dec. 21, as part of it's regular emergency procedure drills. There was a representative from both the Madera County Sheriff's Office and Cal Fire to review and observe procedures and offer feedback on how to make drills more effective and run more smoothly.
Even though this drill was on Principal Nicole White's calendar for more than a month, the events that happened less than two weeks ago at Sandy Creek Elementary School in Connecticut could not be ignored.
"Student safety is always our number one concern, but today we will inevitably be thinking of our colleagues in Connecticut and the children of Sandy Hook as we perform the safety drills," White said.
White put the entire campus on lock down drill, then a fire drill, and a modified evacuation drill. White said the district is taking a careful inventory of our sites and procedures to ensure that our school sites are as safe and prepared as possible.
Sheriff's deputy Roy Broomfield, who is the main responder to calls at Yosemite and Minarets high schools, was at OCI offering advice.
"I think that the practice of drills is essential for all the school staff," Broomfield said.
Broomfield said practice makes everything run more fluidly, making it second nature.
Once White put the school on lockdown after announcing it over the school's intercom, Broomfield, along with Cal Fire firefighter Ryan Davis of Station 12, went to each classroom with White to make sure all the rooms were securely locked, curtains were closed and lights were off.
During lockdown, students are not allowed to leave the classroom, not even to use the restroom. In serious circumstances, Broomfield said trash cans can be converted into toilets for emergencies.
Students are instructed to move away from windows and outer walls, lie facedown, and seek cover if possible. It is then that teachers are allowed to administer first aid if necessary and await further instruction from law enforcement with proper identification.
After evaluating that these procedures had been properly conducted, White immediately put the entire school through a fire drill.
According to proper procedures, teachers must have a hard copy of their attendance roster with them in order to account for all students in their care during these activities.
When the fire alarm goes off, teachers must evacuate their building with their students and go to a designated area and are not allowed to return to any of the buildings until an all clear signal has been given.
Broomfield also offered tips for emergency evacuation procedures and, because of the meeting, all teachers will be equipped with walkie talkies when school begins again after Christmas break.
"Every time we do it, we like to have input and from the local sheriff's department and the fire folks," said Glenn Reid, Bass Lake Joint Union Elementary School District superintendent. "Those are the guys that would be the first responders."
Reid said it's important to the district that the sheriff's department has everything they need in case of an emergency and always provide the sheriff's department with updates maps of all their school facilities.
"We want to be prepared and keep our kids safe," Reid said.