By Hillary S. Meeks
Killeen Daily Herald
There is a world of dangerous situations – a weapons assault, natural disasters, chemical spills – that could happen at or near schools, all of which loom in the minds of school administrators. This is why, every year, the Killeen Independent School District practices its emergency operations plan as if there were a real crisis.
Monday morning, KISD safety director John Dye briefed several Killeen High School administrators as well as other district employees on the day's imaginary disaster: a railroad tanker car filled with poisonous chlorine overturned on the tracks south of the high school.
Once he got the word, KHS Principal Mike Sibberson ordered students to "shelter in." They all immediately cleared hallways and huddled in the corners of classrooms, with doors locked.
"It was amazing how serious the kids took it. I had to look in the classrooms just to see if there were actually kids in the school; they weren't making a peep," he said.
At 9 a.m., the halls of Killeen High School were strangely silent, just as Sibberson said. The only people who could be seen were other high school administrators from the district who were observing the drill. A few minutes later, Sibberson got on the intercom and congratulated his students and staff on their prompt follow-through.
But the drill didn't stop there. Students from four classrooms were taken outside and picked up by six buses to be transported to the Killeen Special Events Center.
"It would take a total number of 50 buses to actually evacuate Killeen High School during a real emergency," said Susan Humiston, executive instructional leader for KISD high schools. "But we're just simulating it with six buses today."
Dye said the Special Events Center is the "reunification" point to which students will be transported during an evacuation emergency. Parents will then be given word through the media that they need to identify themselves and pick up their students.
"We're walking through all the steps to make sure our support system is in place. When something like this happens, all the elements of the district stop what they were doing and jump on this," he said.
Those who participated in the drill ranged from KHS staff to the district director of food services, all the way to KISD System Superintendent Jim Hawkins. Dye said in a real-life emergency, all these people would need to be involved to ensure a smooth process.
Because it was just a drill, the evacuated students were bused back to the school instead of being picked up by parents. Near the end of the drill, both Dye and Sibberson said they felt as if everything went according to plan, but there would be an after-meeting to address any areas that might need improvement.
Contact Hillary S. Meeks at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7464