Tornado Scenario

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Use these questions to guide discussion with regard to the following events:

  1. What should classroom teachers be doing now?

  2. What actions do you take with your students at this time?

  3. What is the status of school emergency response teams at this time?

  4. Where is your command post at this time?

  5. What transition in the incident command system is taking place now? How?

  6. What information do you need?

  7. What action can you take to get the needed information?

  8. What information to provide to the staff, students, parents, etc.?

H hour: Your county has been under a Tornado Watch for the past 30 minutes. The watch is scheduled to continue for another hour. Your school has a small group of students that are scheduled to depart for an academic competition being hosted at another school.
H+8 min: Your NOAA radio has just notified you that your county is under a Tornado Warning. An F3 tornado just destroyed buildings 25 miles to your southwest. The tornado was moving at 30+ miles per hour in the direction of your school.
H+12 min: Your school receives a call from a teacher whose class is on a field trip. They had just departed to head back to the school. She wants to know what she should do.
H+15 min: The Emergency Alerting System announces that two separate tornadoes are being tracked. The largest one, perhaps and F3, is several miles ahead and is headed in a northeasterly direction toward your school.
H+20 min: Police notify the principal at your school that you are in the path of a large tornado that is approximately 5 minutes away.
H+23 min: Power just went out at your school.
H+25 min: The tornado just impacted your school. There is major structural damage on the south side of the building and the roof on that side of the building is gone. Persons may be trapped in the rubble. There is no communications capability at your school. All phone lines, including the fax machine, are out. Cell phones are not working.
H+27 min: Debris falling in the area around your school includes a large metal tank which lands in the faculty parking lot. The tank apparently ruptured on impact with the ground and is leaking. Cars in the staff parking lot appear to have been damaged by falling debris.
H+30 min: There are definitely some students and maybe 2 staff members under the rubble at your school. There are 10 students and 4 staff members who have injuries from flying glass and debris. None of the injuries seem life-threatening. A few parents have arrived by foot at the school looking for their children. They are reporting “terrible destruction” in the area. The roads are obstructed with downed trees, electrical and phone lines.
H+35 min: A fire has been detected in the damaged part of the school. There is smoke blowing into the remaining structure.
H+40 min: Parents for around ¼ of your students have shown up at the school to get their children. Cell phone communications have returned but are sporadic.
H+45 min: Teachers report that 3 students from neighborhoods near the school have departed your school on their own. A teacher trips and falls at your school and suffers a head injury. The teacher is unconscious.
H+50 min: The first emergency vehicle (a law enforcement officer) arrives to check your school. Routes have been opened. Medical evacuation will now begin.
H+55 min: A TV news reporter from Hannibal arrives at the school.
H+1Hr: 1/3 of the students at your school remain at the school. All the rest have been released to their parents or are in the hospital. A needed staff member has notified the Incident Commander that she is departing without permission.

Conclude the exercise with an After Action Review:

  • What did we do well?

  • What could we do better next time?

  • What changes should we make in our plan?

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