Safe DML – Ready for Disaster
by: Cody Cavestany
As the old adage goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Schools are critical infrastructure entrusted with the responsibility of honing the citizens of tomorrow. A safe and secure environment is a prerequisite for effective teaching and learning. Thus, ensuring safety of children, teachers and personnel during disasters is necessary. At DML Montessori School, safety of children is given due consideration and becomes of utmost importance.
The Fire Safety and Earthquake Awareness Day was organized under the premise that in the event of a major emergency or disaster, school authorities may become overwhelmed with the scale of the response required and emergency services may not be able to respond to the immediate needs of everyone and arrival of help could stretch from minutes to hours or even days. This activity included the use of the Emergency Go Bag prepared at the start of the school year for each student. This Go bag will bring some peace of mind and increase the disaster resilience of our children in school. The bag includes things that may be needed in the first hour or so following an emergency or disaster. The said bags are comfortable, durable, made of high quality materials that are sturdy and does not weigh much for our children to carry. It contains only a small portion of the disaster supplies but is a key part of the school’s preparedness and response. It includes basic emergency supplies that are recommended by emergency response experts.
Because disasters often strike quickly, they are frightening for adults, and can be traumatic for children especially if they do not know what to do. It is thus important to give children guidance that will help them reduce their fears. The adults in schools must know how to react appropriately to an emergency to give the children clues on how to act as well. Teachers, school administrators and personnel must be in control of the situation and their response during this time may have a lasting impact on children.
It was in this context that the August 29 activity was held, with the DML community committed to helping the school become better prepared for a disaster or emergency. Experts in the field of disaster risk reduction and basic life support were invited to speak and encourage children, parents and educators to participate and be educated about disaster preparation (particularly earthquake and fire) and safety awareness. The program started with a short kid’s animation on fire safety with Roy the robocar. Ms. Maria Rizhell Apo from the Quezon City Disaster Risk Reduction office led the program. This was soon followed by a mini lecture on raising awareness about fire risk and building resiliency among young people. The Quezon City Fire District prepared age appropriate materials to educate the children and keep them engaged all throughout the lecture. Everyone in the audience even wanted to try on the firefighter suit and look closely at some of the equipment presented.
A fire and earthquake drill came after the talk. The students, in their respective classrooms did the “drop-cover-and-hold” before proceeding to the safety grounds wearing their Go Bags. The DML faculty, school personnel and security staff also got first-hand experience in using the fire extinguisher while all the students saw a fire truck up close. Meanwhile, parents and yayas were asked to go to the designated evac area and remembered to give their respective passwords to the class advisers in fetching the students.
This activity aimed to educate the primary care givers of the students in school on knowledge and involve them in disaster preparedness. It is essential for disaster preparedness that we, the parents, know and trust that our children will be safe and cared for at school.