January 20, 2022

Top El’s Earthquake Prep

 

Kids and teachers score high marks for earthquake preparedness.

PHOTO BY FLAVIA POTENZA MESSENGER © 2013

Top El’s Earthquake Prep

(R) Fourth grade teacher Ingrid Eiserling’s students “Dropped, Covered and Held On” during the two-minute earthquake drill at Topanga Elementary on Oct. 17.

Topanga Elementary students were prepared to “Drop, Cover and Hold On” during the the Great California Shakeout Drill that took place statewide on Oct. 17.

Around 10:17, Principal Nicole Sheard announced over the PA system that the drill would begin at the next bell indicating an earthquake that would last for two minutes. On cue, the students in Ingrid Eiserling’s fourth grade class ducked under their desks, curled into tight little balls, hands covering their heads and stayed there while Eiserling and her teacher’s aide, Brittney Bonilla, checked their positions, making sure children nearest the windows had their heads turned away.

PHOTO BY FLAVIA POTENZA MESSENGER © 2013

Top El’s Earthquake Prep

Students at Topanga Elementary quickly and silently evacuated the classrooms during the Great California Shakeout Drill on Oct. 17.

Since there was no real earthquake happening, you could have heard a pin drop, the children were so silent. When the all–clear sounded, they quietly and calmly crawled out from under their desks and were shepherded to the upper playground.

Some of the children were designated as “injured” and would remain behind as part of the Search and Rescue drill.

PHOTO BY FLAVIA POTENZA MESSENGER © 2013

Top El’s Earthquake Prep

Search and Rescue Team1, comprised of teachers (L-R) Moria DeLao, Kelly Welch and Ingrid Eiserling, give each other a high five after completing their search and rescue that discovered two children and a teacher’s aide in the kindergarten playground.

Search and Rescue Team 1, comprised of teachers Kelly Welch, Moria DeLao and Ms. Eiserling, were assigned to search the lower classrooms: three kindergarten rooms, the library, bathrooms and even a maintenance closet, reporting via their radio to Sheard at Command Central.

PHOTO BY FLAVIA POTENZA MESSENGER © 2013

Top El’s Earthquake Prep

Parent Susan Clark (L), who has first aid training and is a member of CERT, and Resources teacher Margaret Morrow (r), who was in charge of the first aid center, supervise “injured” children in a triage area at the upper playground.

Searching the kindergarten playground behind the office, they found two “injured” children, one in shock, the other unable to stop crying, waiting there with teacher’s aide Violet Paley. The team reported in and escorted the group to the upper playground, where triage units had been set up, facilitated by Susan Clark of Topanga Animal Rescue.

“I am here only as a parent,” she said. “I have the most first aid training and am here only until someone who has much more training than me arrives. We’re triaging the injured following FEMA procedures. In a real disaster, I would be a CERT volunteer able to administer first aid.”

PHOTO BY NICOLE SHEARD

Top El’s Earthquake Prep

For the Oct. 17 earthquake drill, students practiced their "Duck and Cover" exercise in the upper playground at Topanga Elementary.

Uninjured students sat in a circle with their class so they could see and interact with each other. Teachers reassured them, handing out books, paper and crayons, or playing games such as “Duck, Duck, Goose, Goose” to keep them occupied.

“Normally, I would talk to all the kids,” said Sheard, “but they’re so spread out, I’m just asking them to leave.”

Debriefing after the event involves the staff filling out an evaluation form and then meeting to discuss what went right and what went wrong.

“There are always glitches, just like a real emergency,” said Sheard. “We fix them and then there are new ones the next time.”

PHOTO BY FLAVIA POTENZA MESSENGER © 2013

Top El’s Earthquake Prep

Fourth-grader Morguinn Korbonski, 11, on her way back to her classroom, said she felt much more prepared after the drill.

It was impressive to observe the teamwork and professionalism of the teachers, as well as the conduct of the children in a drill that they all took seriously.

“I feel much more prepared,” said fourth-grader Morguinn Korbonski, 11, as she walked back to her classroom.

PHOTO BY NICOLE SHEARD

Top El’s Earthquake Prep

Instructional Aide Janet Cazarez keeps the kindergarten students comfortable and entertained while their teacher, Roger Harrell, performed his Search and Rescue duties. Each class sat in a circle so they could see and interact with each other.