Safe Schools 101
Since the tragic loss of lives, including seven Oklahoma students, in the May 2013 tornado outbreak, many in the state have called for safe rooms in each of our schools. The tornadoes resulted in two schools destroyed, with at least 54 others schools damaged, according to the Oklahoma Department of Education. Numerous students, faculty and staff were injured in the storm.
Based on initial observations of area schools visited after the tornadoes as well as support from Governor Mary Fallin, the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management (OEM) and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) created “Safe Schools 101,” an initiative that brings subject matter experts to provide training for volunteer architects, engineers, and state and local officials who will then perform assessments of individual school structures.
Volunteers will use the assessment to produce a school-specific follow-up report that includes realistic options for hardening and/or installation of safe rooms in the structure as well as offering recommendations for safe refuge areas already existing in the school. The school district will have the opportunity to choose which actions if any it would like to take based on the results of the report.
The overall goal of the program is to assess every school in the state. However, the program is, and will remain voluntary for both schools and participants in the training.
Training classes will be presented during the first quarter of 2014 with 20 more school buildings to be assessed in the six counties originally included in the disaster declaration: Oklahoma, Canadian, Cleveland, Pottawatomie, Lincoln and McClain. Architects and structural engineers along with emergency managers and school administrators are invited and encouraged to enroll in the training course and participate in the safe refuge site assessment for school buildings.
Future plans are to continue this program throughout the State of Oklahoma.
Please note: the schools that may be assessed January, February and March, 2014 must be in one of the following six counties originally included in the disaster declaration: Oklahoma, Canadian, Cleveland, Pottawatomie, Lincoln and McClain. After that time, requests for school assessments through Safe Schools 101 will be addressed in the order in which they are received as teams are available.
Architects, engineers, emergency managers, first responders or others who would like to attend the Safe Schools 101 assessment and design course and participate in school assessments, please email Safe Schools 101 for more information. Upcoming class dates will be listed here as they are scheduled.