Mock disaster drill described as a success, though some areas for improvement cited

Courtney Jackson & Maria Loredo, Reporters

More than 900 students and staff successfully evacuated Red Oak Junior High during the district’s mock disaster drill Friday.

“Overall, it was very positive,” Red Oak ISD Police Chief Scott Lindsey said.

However, there were some issues, especially with communication.

“The downside was [that the] communications system with the fire department went down, which delayed our ability to get information on the injured,” Lindsey said.

Friday’s mock disaster drill simulated a train crash that caused air quality issues. Students stayed in external lockdown until it was safe to evacuate.

Simultaneously, the medical staff attended to 30 “injured students” and evacuated them to makeshift hospitals.

“Teachers maintained control, took quick accountability and got us the information we needed to make decisions for the campus; they were excellent,”  Lindsey said.

Despite the chaotic situation, administrators felt students and staff did well overall. Assistant Principal Todd Bramwell rated the drill as 89% successful and said the school was very prepared. Principal Cristi Watts agreed with Bramwell’s assessment.

“The teachers did an excellent job with the evacuation and maintaining their group of kids throughout the entire evacuation process,” Watts said. “Overall, the students did a fantastic job with the shelter in place and the evacuation.”

However, Watts did identify areas that need improvement.

“The teachers could improve with more focus on accountability and how we call student names – we have to slow down,” Watts said.

The next planned mock disaster for the district will be in three years, according to Lindsey.