Preparing for the Worst

Are students taking emergency preparedness drills too lightly?


Fire Drill on 9/20

Samantha Brandts, Editor & Writer

During an intensely humid morning on September 5, at the time of block 3, the staff members of Wilson High School conducted a lockdown drill. 


Similarly, on September 20, during block 4, the students and staff members of Wilson flooded the football field to complete the procedures for a fire drill. 


An earthquake drill also took place on October 18 during block 4, where students and faculty were told over the PA system to take cover under their desks. 


Lockdown drills, along with these fire drills and other emergency procedures, are held in order to prepare for an emergency during a Wilson High school day. The Long Beach Unified School District has been preparing students for emergencies ever since their earliest days of kindergarten. However, in the event of a real emergency, will these drills actually do us any good? 


This question was put to the test when on October 8, when during block 3, an unplanned shelter-in-place announcement flooded the intercoms of Wilson High. 


Kimberly Holland, Wilson’s new principal, announced over the speakers that shelter-in-place procedures were to take place in all classrooms, confirming that this message was not a drill. Struck with shock and disbelief, students and staff members around the school managed to perform all necessary tasks: closing and locking doors and windows, as well as remaining indoors to wait for further instructions. 


As the primary reaction of the students and staff members was to complete the required procedures, the secondary response was not at all the same. Students, as well as the Wilson faculty, acted out in an improper manner. 


Kristin Garcia, an English teacher at Wilson reported that because emergency preparedness procedures are hardly ever put into action, the initial response from students and staff is one of uncertainty. “I think that sometimes when [the procedures are] not a regular occurrence, we don’t always know the appropriate way to react.”


Staff assistants stress the importance of these drills and warn students of the dangers that could ensue if something dangerous occurred. However, when asked if the Wilson students took the drill seriously, Garcia reported “I think they took it seriously, but didn’t know the extent of the seriousness.”


Most students during the time of the safety-in-place procedures took the time allowed by the drill to chat amongst their peers. In fact, the students of Wilson High seemed to not take this warning seriously in the slightest. Classrooms remained boisterous because students simply used this shelter-in-place procedure as a break from learning and as an excuse to talk amongst their classmates. 


Senior Jamason Vargas was particularly surprised by the actions of her classmates. “The kids didn’t listen to the instructions of our teacher,” reports Vargas. When asked about the classroom environment during the shelter-in-place procedures, Vargas added that the classroom was frightfully noisy. 


After a minute or so of the active shelter-in-place warning, several other announcements were made by Holland in an attempt to keep the students and faculty of Wilson updated of the situation. Holland confirmed that there was no one present on campus and that there was simply a crime present in the neighborhood surrounding Wilson that we had to be aware of. Finally, with the last announcement regarding the situation, Holland set off a broadcast over the PA system reporting that the shelter-in-place procedure would be brought to an end. 


In the rise of school shootings in the past few years, it is obvious that no tragic event is taken lightly. With the lives of children and staff members in danger, an emergency procedure must be treated as a dire situation in order to keep the lives of high schoolers and staff members safe in the event of an emergency. 


While this situation only turned out to be a minor event with no serious harm done, these warnings must be taken more seriously by the students of Wilson in order to prepare for the unclear and unpredictable time ahead. No matter how hard we try, we can never predict the future. We must live every day on our toes, prepared to take action and equipped to face any trouble that comes our way.