MOCK DRILLS IN SCHOOLS: WHY AND HOW

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Recently, a hoax phone call about spotting few suspicious people, looking like terrorists, spread like wildfire across the city, resulting in utter chaos and panic in schools. Terrified parents rushed to schools to pick up their children. As usual, by evening it became evident that it was all needless panic. But what the incident has highlighted is the need for the city schools to have a standard operating procedure (SOP) to deal with such emergencies. Even if it was just a hoax call, chaos and the resulting stampede could cost lives.

What is required is a systematic approach to deal with such emergencies. Considering that a large number of students are present during school hours in the building, and external help may take some time to reach, a SOP and preparatory drills for the students, teachers, parents is a must. In 2010, the Union Home Ministry framed SOP for schools during such emergencies. In Mumbai, mock drills are conducted only in a few selected schools every year. Schools need to prepare their own SOP to be followed in such emergencies and conduct training drills as frequently as possible.

                   A mock drill for evacuation is a participatory method to practice the safety related measures and evacuation of a building during an emergency situation, natural or manmade. For fire related drill, the fire alarm is activated and building is evacuated as though a real fire had occurred to ensure no damage to life. S.V.P.V. Vidyalaya, Kandivli, has developed a SOP for mock drill to evacuate the building in eight floors in 6 to 8 minutes. A team of teachers, student volunteers of Scouts and Guides and Road Safety Patrol (RSP) have planned and tested the drill for its flexibility, adaptability, dynamism and acceptance. They visited the disaster management department of BMC, R South Ward to study the working of Disaster Management Plan (DMP) in government bodies, planning, execution and communication of their work in society.
The emergency numbers for help are 100-Police hotline, 108-Disaster management, 1916 Toll free number, 101-Fire Brigade, 102- Ambulance 1nd 103-Traffic Police. Clearing the way to the site is done by Traffic Police, Mob Controlling by Police, Rescue by Fire Brigade, Medical aid/first aid is by team of doctors and nurses, Ambulance for transport of injured, tents are built for refuge.

                   The objectives of conducting mock drill in school is to educate and train the staff and students how to react in any unforeseen emergency situation specially like earthquake and fire which occur without warning, catching all unaware. This exercise builds up courage and confidence in all involved, it enables them to be life savers at the time of emergency. In this process oriented drill, all participants are equal and responsible, there is no hierarchy, and democracy is practiced. We are not able to prevent the earthquake, the wind from blowing, or the rain from falling. However, with assessment and planning, physical and environmental protection and response preparedness we can prevent these events from becoming disasters. ‘Safety is a common sense’

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