School emergency drills -- for parents?
A prominent tucson parent is calling for TUSD -- and other districts -- to consider emergency drills for parents.Photo: Video by kgun9.com
Reporter: Valerie Cavazos
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - The talk of the country is still focused on the school shooting in Connecticut .. including right here in Tucson. Now a prominent tucson parent is calling for TUSD -- and other districts -- to consider emergency drills for parents.
Former TUSD board president Alex Rodriquez points out the two narrow entrances that lead to Soleng Tom Elementary, the school his young daughter attends. "As a governing board member, i visited many of our schools and they have a similar situation where it's narrow -- narrow roads where you have people backed up."
Rodriquez said traffic runs smoothly -- on good days -- but should a worst case scenario happen, every parent is going to rush to the school. "I would do anything possible in order to get to my child's classroom. And i know every parent would as well. So the issue is imagine if we had a plan and we knew what to do in the event of a major catastrophe."
Reacting to the dramatic scenes of frantic parents reponding to the Connecticut shooting, Rodriguez is now calling for schools to plan emergency drills -- or practice runs -- for parents. "What we don't want are vehicles in the way of police, fire, emergency vehicles, other special units, whatever the situation might warrant. What we need is for parents to know exactly what to do in that kind of environment."
We asked Tom Peina of the Pima County Sheriff's Department what he thought parents drills are needed. He answered, "Generally speaking, it's a good idea, because it's helpful because at a time when we have a lot of people responding to a location because of the concern about family members understandably so that can cause a big problem for emergency responders."
Peine said parent staging areas work well so schools and law enforcement can go to one location to communicate with parents.
Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut used a Reverse 9-1-1 system to send messages out to parents. TUSD public information officer Cara Rene told KGUN9 that the district had been looking into that, but doesn't currently have a system in place. Rene said that the district has been reviewing its emergency procedures this week and will continue next week and administrators consider all options to improve communications with parents.
Rodriguez says he hopes other districts consider the parent drills as well.