School takes fire drill on the road to try offsite evacuation

ASH, NC (WWAY) — A Brunswick County school is using a new safety drill, but it make take a little more time out of the school day. It’s called an offsite evacuation.

It sounded like a fire drill at Jessie Mae Monroe Elementary School in Ash this morning, but Principal Helen Otto took it to the next step.

“We are going to load onto the buses,” she told students and staff.

Otto pretended a fire had taken over a wing of the school and everyone needed to evacuate. Buses transported almost 500 people to Brunswick Community College’s South Brunswick Islands Center three miles away.

“It was only a window of about 30 minutes,” Otto said.

School resource officer Sgt. Adam Stanley says while it may take more out of the school day than a typical fire drill, it is worth it.

“All of it is worth it, because it teaches us how to react and respond when a situation like this happens,” Sgt. Stanley said.

And he says that situation could be a number of things.

“There could be an inclement weather situation. We could have an active shooter,” he said.

But whatever the situation, Otto says students need to feel comfortable.

“When we entered the building of offsite, the kids were really kind of in awe, because that was the first time they were in the building,” Otto said. “So when you have a first time for anything, you’re not comfortable, but once you walk through that, then I think everyone has a more comfortable feeling.”

Otto says she thinks her students found that feeling.

“One of the girls who came off the bus first, she goes, ‘Mrs. Otto I feel safe. If there was something bad that would happen, I now feel safe,'” Otto said. “That just relieves your heart in knowing that.”

Otto said she got idea from her work in other school districts in other states. A school district spokeswoman says there are no plans right now to try the offsite evacuation at other county schools.

Categories: Brunswick, News

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