Being in the middle of a real crisis situation is one of the most traumatic events people can experience. Hard enough for us adults to process; just image what it must be like for our students. Here are few tips to help reduce evacuation trauma when conducting drills so if you have a real event hopefully some of the stress and trauma can be relieved:
- If paths of egress permit have your students walk side by side instead of single file while evacuating. This allows the teacher to better manage students and provides a companion for students to look over to and be reassured and comforted.
- For our younger students walking side by side consider having them hold hands. During times of stress we should not under value the power of human touch to help reduce anxiousness.
- When sheltering in place replace the traditional turtle position with students sitting on the floor facing their teacher along a wall. Nothing is more isolating and scary that being curled up in the turtle position all alone. Not to mention the vast majority of these shelter in place situations do not involve falling debris which is the whole argument for the turtle position to begin with. A teacher's e contact and reassuring words are extremely powerful during these times.
While we think of students during these times we must also consider fellow staff members. When possible team up and be attentive each others emotional state. By working together and providing opportunities for compassion and care we can reduce the traumatic impact these events have on all of us.
This is John Baker for safetysolutions4schools.com.