PALMDALE – Students at Palmdale Learning Plaza calmly turned off lights and computers and came together behind their teacher’s desk. Meanwhile, their teacher made an announcement over the school PA system to secure all classrooms.
In the hallway, a group of school administrators observed, making notes of what went right and what could be improved as the students and staff participated in a campus-wide emergency drill.
“The drill ran well,” said Palmdale School District Superintendent Raul Maldonado. “Our staff did a fantastic job and students acted just how we have planned, in order to remain calm and safe.”
Run in close cooperation with the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station, the exercise simulated an intrusion into the front office and had teachers identifying possible hazards and taking defensive measures, such as securing their classrooms and alerting authorities.
Within a minute of the PA announcement, doors were locked, classrooms were dark and the school seemed deserted.
Maldonado used a key to open a few classroom doors, only to find the lights off and furniture stacked in the doorway. Teachers were also calling a simulated 911 line to report the incident.
“We practice so we can be ready for any emergency,” explained Palmdale Learning Plaza Principal Danny Kanga. “Everyone on our team did great. I have complete confidence in the ability of our students and staff to stay safe and care for one another in the event of an intruder.”
Parents, students and staff were all notified prior to the exercise. District administrators were stationed around the school to provide support and answer questions.
Participating staff and observers came together to debrief after the exercise. Los Angeles County Sheriff Deputy Dale Luvvik, whose primary responsibility is to work with Palmdale School District, led the meeting.
“Everything went very smooth and calls were made to 911 quickly,” reported Luvvik. “History has shown that events like this are stopped by law enforcement coming out. The faster we get law enforcement here, the faster it’s over.”
This exercise is just one of the emergency drills that happen at every campus across the Palmdale School District, including fire and earthquake drills. These drills are designed to help prepare students and keep district staff’s skills honed.
“It’s one thing to make plans,” said Maldonado. “Exercises like these let us see how well our plans work and how we can improve them. Today they worked very well, including our communications.”