How Campbell Schools Prepare for 'The Big One'

As Frankenstorm takes hold of the East Coast, Campbell Union School District officials discuss the district's emergency protocols that keep children's safety top of mind.

Although Californians don't have to prepare for weather such as the hurricane-then tropical storm Sandy that the East Coast is bracing itself for, emergency preparedness is something the state residents, including its schools don't take lightly.

Earthquakes are California's hurricanes and schools prepare for "The Big One" in several ways including regular earthquake drills, knowledge of safety plans and communication equipment that will weather the aftermath.

In Campbell, students and teachers alike recently partook in the California Great Shake Out, a statewide earthquake drill aimed at educating the public on how to better prepare for a large earthquake.

"We do take it really seriously," says Capri Elementary School Principal David Wilce. "We have a drill every month for various emergencies and the kids respond well to it. The goal is to keep everyone as safe as possible."

Every school campus has a predetermined meeting area that all of the school's faculty knows about. Each classroom has an emergency kit in it and each teacher is responsible for going out with it. Every teacher is CPR certified.

"The emergency kit has basic stuff that they would need: bandages, attendance list, cards showing the protocols for different kinds of situations and what should be done, step by step, etc." says Campbell Union School District Spokeswoman Marla Sanchez.

Along with these, the school district is connected with the incident command system, the communication system that emergency responders use.

"In a major incident like that, communication is the first thing to break down," Sanchez says. "The staff/equipment are allocated as needed."

In the event of a natural disaster such as an earthquake, the district has only one thing in mind.

"The kids are our top priority," Sanchez says. "Whatever the situation is, as frustrating as it might be, safety is dealt with first. Then we communicate with the parents in whatever way is available to us."

For instance, if there was a gas leak everyone evacuates first, then waits for police, she says. Afterwards, the district may email parents or send a letter home to let them know what happened and how the district responded and what to talk to their child about.

"If computers or phones are down, we would use public broadcast and signage," she says. "So if parents were to arrive, people would direct them to the parent pickup area."

Because communication is key in an event of an emergency, Sanchez says parents should make sure that their contact information is up-to-date and that their list of approved individuals who can pick up their children is up-to-date as well.

"It is extremely important to keep your information up to date," she says. "We have our school messenger system set up to phone and email parents. If that information is not current, you might not get the call or the email.

"And legally, the schools are not allowed to release students to anyone that isn’t on the form parents turn in," Sanchez says. "If you aren’t the regular babysitter, a neighbor or family member that’s not on the list, there will be a delay in your child's release."

Campbell Patch spoke with Campbell Police Capt. Dave Carmichael in a previous interview about what he suggests be in every family's home emergency kit. Carmichael shared his top five below.

Capt. Dave Carmichael’s 5 must-haves in a home emergency-preparedness kit

1. Most importantly, don’t panic, and do have a central meeting location for your family. 2. Have a few days’ supply of water and non-perishable food. 3. Make sure to have a flashlight (don't forget batteries), first aid kit and sanitation supplies. 4. Make sure to have blankets and a hand-crank radio. 5. Make sure to have a tent.


Are you prepared for the next quake? Check out these items you should have and know in your emergency preparedness kit. And since Campbell is such a pet friendly city, here are tips on being pet prepared as well.


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