Start taking drills seriously

But no matter what the school does, in the midst of a disaster students will only be as safe as they allow themselves to be.

Students must be willing to cooperate and display maturity when dealing with matters of safety and security — because even a bomb shelter won’t protect a bystander who doesn’t follow directions.

On Nov. 13, the entire school was supposed to stop, drop and hold on to something steady at the sound of the first earthquake drill alarm Harvard-Westlake has heard in years. Teachers had been asked to take a few moments to describe basic earthquake safety protocol and invite questions. Even though this drill took 10 minutes to execute, there were complaints throughout the day of time wasted that students had counted on using to do homework and comments regarding how unnecessary the ordeal had been.
How do we all know when an ear-splitting siren goes off that there is no real disaster occurring? Why did so many students’ mindsets instantly revert to annoyance and indifference at this interruption in our day? Whether students joke about how lightly their teacher took the drill, laugh off the request to get under their desks or casually wend their way down to the general area on the field, it seems like many students have been lulled into a false sense of security that we are untouchable or invincible, and thus have no need for disaster-preparedness.

The reason we have drills is so that in the unexpected chaos of a true emergency, there is some pre-ordained plan to ascertain that no student has been trapped under a building or locked in a burning classroom. Drills, by nature, are a mental exercise — all that is asked of us is that we commit to a short simulation of an emergency situation. We apply our powers of imagination in much more demanding ways every day — so why can’t we manage to apply our mental capacities to line up in alphabetical order upon request?
According to the U.S. Geological Survey, there is a 99 percent chance that Southern California will experience an earthquake of magnitude 6.7 or higher in the next 30 years. This threat is real. When nature strikes or an armed gunman necessitates a lockdown, there is no time for mockery or irritation. We have to be ready to flush everything else from our minds and act efficiently, calmly and safely.

In sports practices, players scrimmage against teammates to simulate the demands and pressures of a real game. Speakers need to practice before a small audience before performing for real to get the feel of exposing themselves before a big crowd. How are we supposed to trust the school’s intricate safety programs if we never fully commit to the kind of drills required to prepare us for action? We owe it to them and we owe it to ourselves to put our own safety and the safety of everyone in this community first by honoring the measures implemented by the school. Ultimately, we’ll all be better safe than sorry