Lessons learnt from simulation exercise at Springer Memorial

Lessons were learnt, both during the simulation exercise at the Springer Memorial Secondary School on Wednesday, and from the fallout.

And principal Cheryl Gill says all future drills will be conducted in collaboration with the related agencies and according to established protocols.

She was speaking Thursday during a media conference to address what occurred at the Government Hill, St Michael, campus. A simulation exercise, following an orange alert (intrusion or gang activity) caused panic among both students and teachers, and as news spread of armed, masked men on the compound, anxious parents gathered at the gate seeking information.

“The exercise yesterday Wednesday] was intended to be a very important part of safety procedures that schools carry out all the time to ensure that we are prepared to deal with various scenarios,” Gill explained.

She said there was successful earthquake drill conducted in February, but acknowledged this one did not go as planned.

“Of course we would have learnt some lessons from the fallout from this exercise. And going forward, we will have our meetings, we will have our reviews and we will ensure that future drills are done according to the exact protocols, but we will take our time and make sure that our staff, our students are well informed and also that we work with the related agencies to carry out the exercise in the correct way.”

Principal of Springer Memorial School Cheryl Gill (GP)

The principal said some children panicked and had to seek medical attention. Personnel in two ambulances tended to students on the compound.

Some children returned to school on Thursday morning and Gill said she was “satisfied they have shown they were comfortable” and moving around as usual. Children were supervised by teaching staff and counselling was provided for those who needed it.

Gill evaded some questions posed by the media, but said teachers were informed of the drill prior to and on the morning.

This was backed by president of the Barbados Secondary Teachers’ Union, Mary Redman, who said a representative on the Health and Safety Committee indicated written instruction on what to do during the drill was disseminated to staff, they were told an orange alert would be announced, an email indicated what to do during an orange alert, an email reminder was sent that same morning and an announcement was made on the public address system that the school was on orange alert.

However, she added, some children who were not in the classroom when the drill began seem to have created a “panic response”.

Chief Education Officer, Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw (GP)Meanwhile, Chief Education Officer Dr Ramona Archer-Bradshaw, said they were working on a schools’ security policy.

“As a ministry, we will continue to support our principals and we know that drills are critical to ensuring that our children know the protocols that are to be followed in the event of a real situation,” she explained.

“Having said that, with autonomy sometimes things can go as planned and other times they do not. And we recognise that after listening to the principal this morning and the deputy principal, though well-intentioned, there were some things that could have been done differently. So we came away from the meeting with lessons learnt.”

Both Archer-Bradshaw and Gill apologised to the public. (SAT)

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