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Evacuation exercise prepares students, faculty

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Carissa Wolff
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
It was a sight not seen very often on Andersen Feb. 20 - hundreds of children evacuating the middle and elementary schools and walking in single file lines to the Top of the Rock and the Palm Tree Golf Course club house. 

However, the students weren't on a walk for fine dining or a day at the golf course; they were participating in a simulated bomb threat exercise. Supervised by the 36th Wing inspector general's office, the evacuation is a mandatory annual exercise.

According to Cherrye Hall, the principal of Andersen Elementary School, the exercise gave the schools an idea of the response they would have in the event of a real-world emergency.

During this exercise there are a few critical areas that are inspected and graded.

"Our primary concern is the safety of the children," said Richard Friend, 36th Wing inspector general. "We also watch to make sure the school maintains positive control of the kids and that they have an effective way to release the children."

The evacuation went smoothly with all children having been evacuated in a matter of minutes, Friend said.

"This was my first time doing this exercise, and I was very impressed," said Friend. "I was in the middle school when the call came in, and I was the only one left in the building in less than four minutes. Overall, they did a great job."

The exercise tested not only the schools, but also first responders, as well. 

According to Bill Hall, Andersen Middle School principal, the students and faculty weren't the only ones who benefited from the exercise. "It's important for the schools and the base to coordinate during these exercises to make sure everyone meets their potential and finds areas needed for improvement." 

"As with any exercise, practice builds confidence, not only for the school staff and first responders but for the children as well," said Friend. "If this has to be done for real someday, we'll all be better prepared and the children, although frightened by whatever event took place, will at least have some assurance in knowing what will happen once they start heading down the street."

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