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Bruins react as staff aim to increase emergency preparedness

School Site Technician Stephanie O’Callaghan shows the control board where the alarms are controlled. Photo by Kalei Owen

The February 28 fire alarm panic ignited many opinions on school safety and raised the question — how prepared are Bruins for emergency situations? 

Many students seem not to know the difference between fire alarms and lock down drills. To help foster better understanding between the two sounds, Bear River conducted a emergency preparedness drill on Friday, April 20, where a staff official came onto the loudspeaker and specified the differences between the lockdown alarm and the fire alarm. 

Despite efforts from staff to alleviate any confusion, Junior Emily Rolland said that she believes drills need to take place during unexpected times, not just a planned time.

“If there was a lock down during a lunch break or a passing period, students definitely wouldn’t know what to do,” said Rolland. “They would probably (panic and) run to the parking lot or something like that.”

Bear River’s Principal Dr. Amy Besler argued that most students are equipped with the knowledge for fire drills, yet there was a large amount of stress on that day which led to the disorder.

“The incident on the 28th was a perfect storm of sorts; people were highly on edge already, which caused them to jump to conclusions when the fire alarm was pulled,” said Dr. Besler. “Typically, students would know what to do when a fire alarm sounds.”

Sophomore Jonathan Rice felt that students were misinformed about the perceived school threat on February 28 which led to many getting called out of school when the fire alarm was pulled.

“Everyone panicked, and a lot of them went home scared because they didn’t know what was going on,” said Rice.

Rolland added her personal experience.

“I didn’t know what was going on,” she said. “My friends were shoving people out of the way, getting to their cars, because no one knew what was going on. We heard that bell once before and people just forgot, and they were already so panicked about it.”

Junior Carsten Siebels believes that Bruins may be ready for fire drills, but are at a total loss when it comes to all other emergencies.

“I feel like we’re kind of prepared for fire drills and stuff because we do that a lot, but not other types of drills,” said Siebels.

Siebels added a solution to the imbalance as well.

“(We should) have more drills for other things like lock downs, and also do lockdowns when people aren’t prepared in class,” he said.

Dr. Besler confirmed that more drills will be taking place soon.

“Yes, we will be practicing all of the safety drills again very soon, as we did back in the fall,” she said. “There is no doubt that practicing more frequently is helpful, too, as we tend to forget things we haven’t practiced in a while.”

Dr. Besler added that the staff’s main concern is always student safety, regardless of the circumstance.

“I am the Mama Bear to 600 very precious young people, and I will do anything in my power to keep them safe … and I know the rest of the staff feels the same way,” she said. 

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Bruins react as staff aim to increase emergency preparedness