A few weeks ago, our area felt the effects of an earthquake whose epicenter was just off the inland coast of Southern Vancouver Island. Every year our staffs and students practice the ‘duck and cover’ procedure followed by an evacuation of the building. Yet when this one struck outside of school hours, I remained on my couch wondering what had happened. I did not duck and cover, even though I have practiced this procedure every year for over 21 years!
Perhaps it is the infrequent nature of earthquakes that we physically experience that causes us to hesitate. We wonder if it is an explosion, or a large truck passing by before hitting Google to see what happened. The telltale signs of a fire are easy to identify as are flooding, and power outages. The windstorms of November pointed out some gaps in the School Emergency Preparedness Guide in dealing with some of the calamities that can accost our worksites.
The School Emergency Preparedness Guide sets out the protocols for dealing with emergencies that may best the workplace. From Lockdowns to Earthquakes, procedures and protocols are identified. Your school will also have handbooks describing the procedures to follow in the event of one of these emergencies. Procedures change as well, so it is a good document to review by Joint Occupational Health and Safety committees. For instance, many sites still have search and rescue teams to go through the school once students have been evacuated in an earthquake scenario. Yet, that is no longer required for safety reasons. Only trained First Responders should enter a building after an earthquake. How many of you are still doing that job?
Maybe we wont react exactly as we are supposed to in an emergency situation, but we can be prepared. I encourage Health and Safety reps to check out the School Emergency Preparedness Guide to ensure your school is practicing the proper protocols. You can find the document on the Staff Portal at the District website. It is under Human Resources/Health and Safety page.
As for the gaps identified from the windstorms, the District Occupational Health and Safety committee is working to include those in the Guide as soon as possible.