A fire broke out in the Miller Elementary School cafeteria on
Thursday, trapping several children in a classroom. At Jordan Middle
School, 15 students were injured and one teacher was missing. Over at
Burbank High School, the auditorium collapsed.
Although the incidents were simulations enacted as part of the
Burbank Unified School District’s annual disaster drill, the
responses were taken seriously.
The district coordinated the drill simultaneously among each
school so students and faculty learn what to do during an emergency
such as an earthquake.
“There are a lot of students in the district and we need to
protect and take care of them during a disaster,” said Marlene
Burton, the district’s disaster preparedness coordinator.
A command center was set up in the board room at district
headquarters, and facilitators communicated via radio with each
school. In turn, faculty members rushed their students into safe
spots such as outdoor athletic fields, and took attendance to make
sure everyone was accounted for.
Next, teachers were assembled into search-and-rescue teams and
combed each campus in search of missing people.
John Burroughs High School Principal Emilio Urioste said teachers
were required to train for disaster relief with the Burbank Police
and Fire departments.
“This makes us proactive, instead of waiting for [a disaster] to
happen and then react,” Urioste said. “And the drill lets students
know that they’re safe and will make it through an emergency.”
Gagik Abrahamian, a John Burroughs High School senior, agreed.
“It’s important because even though kids don’t take it seriously,
they know what to do when the situation arises,” he said.