Photo from ateneo.edu (used for illustration purposes only)
Next to our home, school is the place our children spend the longest time in. We, parents, trust that aside from it being an institution that champions learning, it is also a safe and secure environment for them. But what does one do when safety inside the campus becomes a concern?
This morning, March 28, at 8:30 a.m., the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU) Loyola Heights campus received a bomb threat, forcing students and faculty members to be swiftly escorted out of the buildings. The high school was already on a school break. The grade school and college, however, were still holding classes.
A high school faculty member, who spoke to SmartParenting on the condition of anonymity because he was not in a position to speak on behalf of AdMU, said that the bomb threat came via a text message.
"[The bomb threat] was a text message that was received by an employee from the Loyola Campus. I was in a meeting when one of the staff from our high school admin came in and said security was ordering everyone to evacuate immediately.”
Per AdMU's standard procedures, the faculty member we spoke to and the rest of the people inside the campus were to leave their belongings and immediately proceed to the designated evacuation points. “The Loyola campus, which is a bit far from us, was the first one to be evacuated,” the faculty member said. “The bomb squad made a sweep of our campus and when it was clear, we were told we could get our belongings and then leave. As far as I know, a second sweep was made after we all left.”
The Quezon City Explosive Division and the Bureau of Fire Protection were deployed to sweep the campus grounds and buildings, and parents were directed to specific emergency pick-up points where they can fetch their kids. After the second sweep, the campus was declared safe, according to AdMU's Facebook post update at 2 p.m. Classes are expected to resume regularly tomorow, March 29.
During times like this, any parent would naturally be frantic to bring his/her child to safety. Make sure to keep these tips in mind:
1. Don't panic. Take a deep breath and focus. Clear your head, so you can make your way to your child's school safely. You can run through the scenarios in your head, but also trust that the school you chose will put the safety of the children a priority.
2. Take the professionals' lead School authorities and government emergency units are trained to handle the situation, so take their lead. Do not try to barge in and disrupt their procedures. Let them do their job. Your cooperation is vital to keeping everyone safe. 3. Try to pace your phone calls When you call your child's adviser, listen calmly and don't be offended if he needs to cut the conversation. He needs to attend to the welfare of the whole class so be patient. If your child has a phone, call him but try to keep it short to save power for the phone's battery.
Incidents like this is exactly why it's important to role-play emergency situations with your kids, no matter how young or old they are. Here are some things you can do beforehand to prepare your family:
Make sure your kids know how to contact you. Include also contact numbers for close family and friends contact numbers, in case your child could not contact you.
In case you and your kids get separated, designate a safe meeting place and instruct them to go there to meet you when they can’t find their way. It could be an open park or a friend's house.
Participate in the school or community emergency preparation meetings. Know what the school's procedures are and offer your suggestions, if necessary.
Have a first-aid kit handy at home. Know how to administer first aid treatments for burns, cuts and bruises, and first-aid procedures like CPR.
For more tips on school safety, click the links below: