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GET READY KERN | How schools prep for a disaster

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Kids are the first to come to mind when disaster strikes. As a parent, it's hard not to be stricken with worry. They might be at school, but that doesn't necessarily silence the concern.

Parents receive some sort of message from schools when a situation happens on campus. The message is usually brief and doesn't necessarily placate manifesting worries.

Joe Grubbs, executive director of risk assessment at Bakersfield College, said schools follow what’s called the National Incident Management System, or NIMS.

The system takes a large incident and breaks it into smaller corresponding pieces to simplify a disaster affecting multiple groups of people. The system is standardized and provides the benefit of working under a system that is understood universally throughout the state.

Grubbs said the system evolved from firefighters in the 1970s. Crews would be tackling fires outside of their designated area when their equipment wouldn't fasten to hydrants. The need for a universal fixture used by all fire stations was realized, and a system was born.

When a disaster happens, schools function as their own entity.

Kern High School District Police Chief Ed Komin said a different plan is in place at each of their 26 schools. They said the plans differ per campus and are tailored to the needs of each site.

One site may need to remain gravely vigilant about one aspect, while another might not need to worry at all.

Grubbs has devoted years of work to teaching schools how to implement these plans correctly. He said training is their only saving grace. Each school adheres to a handbook, but nothing can technically prepare them.

Grubbs said schools must constantly practice and configure all types of possible situations to become comfortable and slide into a mind frame that allows them to analyze their way through catastrophe.

The KHSD has made its basic plan available online, but officials said they are unable to fully disclose all details. Komin said some information could jeopardize the safety of the school and is not for public viewing.

Contact your child's school for more information on what safety plans have been instituted in the event of a disaster.

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