OPINION: We’re more safe, but we’re not more prepared

By The Boiling Point Editorial Board

BOOM! A major earthquake has just shaken Los Angeles during school hours. Quick, what does the school want us to do?  Where are the earthquake supplies?

If you cannot answer either of those questions, that’s an issue. Every student should be able to answer emergency-related questions in a heartbeat. That doesn’t just mean how to line up during fire drills. It means where to hide if God-forbid an armed intruder storms into our school, or what to do if an earthquake hits.

To this point, however, students have not received any education pertaining to how to handle emergency situations, with the exception of a few fire drills.

It’s partly understandable.  It’s easy to feel safe at Shalhevet – safer than we’ve ever felt before.  The school has done an excellent job building security into the new building, from stronger gates and higher walls to phones in classrooms and a plethora of security cameras.  Most of all, the Boiling Point and everyone else have the utmost confidence, trust and respect for the security team led by Mr. Manny Fernandez.

But all students and all faculty still need some uniform, baseline knowledge of what to do if disaster strikes. A shooter could come during lunch when teachers are not in the classrooms.  An earthquake could strike after school when only co-curriculars are meeting.  Disaster preparedness has been shown to save lives from Fukushima, Japan, to the Boston Marathon. Without it, there could be total chaos and serious repercussions.

Our awesome security team can only do so much. At the end of the day, students should not be explaining to teachers how to lock classroom doors. We need to know how to hide if we are on the third floor where walls are all glass and there are no curtains to conceal ourselves from the outside.   

To many, this discussion may seem too theoretical. While it is true that no such scenario has ever occurred at our school or probably ever will, we should not take our fortune for granted. When it comes to security and the safety of everyone in the school, don’t assume anything. Hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Security at our school has come a long way, that’s for sure. But it’s important for us to acknowledge the remaining holes and for all of us to be given the extra 20 to 30 minutes to fix them. A state-of-the-art building should have state-of-the-art preparedness, and not just for fire.