El Monte City School District Disaster Preparedness
by Arlene Bury
May 14, 2014 • 651 views
Teachers face mini-disasters on a daily basis, from mysteriously missing homework to antsy second graders that won’t sit still. But when real emergencies unfold, school personnel and students have to be prepared.
El Monte City School District has one of the best emergency plans in the San Gabriel Valley. Manager of Business Support Services, Celia Carvajal, heads up the district emergency plan implementation team. Regarding EMCSD disaster preparation she says, “Our goal is always to improve. How can we make it better?”
Carvajal has a personal interest in keeping all students safe. She has two daughters that attend Rio Vista, an EMCSD school. Carvajal says, “Our emergency plan is intended to keep all children safe and when I say all children – I mean all children because those children are my children.”
“The district policy is to train everyone from the playground supervisor to the superintendent.” Carvajal says. District personnel attend training sessions ranging from fire and earthquake emergency procedures to handling an intruder on campus.
Schools practice monthly drills where students are instructed on what to do for a particular emergency. It is evident that this instruction has paid off. During a recent earthquake, Carvajal said she ran into her daughters’ bedroom and there they were, doing exactly what they were trained to do – crouching under a table, covering their heads, calmly waiting for the rumbling to stop.
In addition to practice drills, EMCSD classrooms have emergency food, water, and first aid kits. Some are equipped with two-way radios and all on-campus staff members have emergency assignments.
Roger Garner, Manager of Facilities, Maintenance and Operations for EMCSD, said that in the event of a major disaster district maintenance personnel are trained to be first responders to secure outer perimeters of schools. His team has an emergency trailer stocked with generators, tools, ropes, tarps, water and other items that would be needed.
Besides practicing drills and getting emergency instruction at school, students and families can prepare for disasters by making supply kits and personal disaster plans. In any disaster, an emergency supply kit is vital. Families should stock kits with things like water, non-perishable food, prescription medications and clothing. They should also formulate a family plan establishing where family members can meet and contact one another in case of an emergency.
Though it’s hard to predict when and where disasters will strike, EMCSD is taking precautionary steps and has put procedures in place to keep both students and staff safe in the event of a major disaster.