An Alarming IHS

Is our school prepared for real emergencies?

By Enya Kuo

It used to be that whenever I heard the fire alarm start to shriek, I would nearly jump out of my seat and scuttle close to my teacher to get out onto the field. Didn’t want to catch on fire, you know.

Now, though, like the rest of my peers, I saunter down the hallway while finding people from other classes to chat, and I see some people on their phones, and other people break from their class procession to join other classes.

Principal Ms. Smoot explained the causes of these fire alarms. Our smoke detectors “are photo sensors,” she said. “They don’t actually sense smoke, so any particle that mimics a smoke particle can cause it to go off. For the two most recent ones, we were unaware in a classroom that there was a steam pot right underneath the sensor.”

Fire alarms have become practically routine at Irvington, to the point that almost no one takes them seriously anymore. The evacuations are welcome (or unwelcome) interruptions to lectures and test and have become excuses for students to hang out and make fun of the administration again. Because of the ridiculously frequent fire alarms we’ve had these past few months, from now on, we won’t treat them seriously, even if it’s a real emergency.

But that’s only one of the reasons Irvington isn’t prepared for emergency situations. Sure, we have fire drills, lockdown drills, and earthquake drills, but when gunmen are running around or the ground is shaking or the school is burning down, are people really going to remember to walk, not run, or to put their phones away?

We only practice these drills in advisory, but emergencies can happen during any period in any classroom. It would be difficult to take time out of every single period to practice a drill six times a day, but keeping the drills in advisory means we face another factor of unfamiliarity when there is an emergency during some other time of the day.

Ms. Smoot admits that while the administration does its best, Irvington drills can only prepare students so much, “The truth of the matter is, we never can predict exactly what the circumstances are going be in any kind of emergency. As soon as you plan for the smallest detail, something comes up that you didn’t anticipate.”