OAKLAND COUNTY — For the 2014-15 school year, Oakland County officials say they are making sure schools are the safest they can possibly be, and that means making sure schools comply with a new emergency drill law.
House Bill 4713, which became effective July 1, mandates that all Michigan schools must file their schedule of emergency drills by Sept. 15 and must post information on complete safety drills to their website.
The bill also requires schools to change the way they have been doing the drills.
According to Ted Quisenberry, manager of Oakland County Homeland Security, schools have been given a timeline, outlining when to do the drills.
Ten emergency drills must be done per year, according to the new law. Five fire drills must be done, and three must be completed before Dec. 1. Three lockdown drills, sometimes called intruder drills, must be completed, and two severe weather drills must be done — completing one by March, before severe weather season.
The law also mandates that schools adopt and implement a cardiac emergency response plan. This includes the placement of a portable defibrillator and CPR training for staff in high schools.
“Threats exist in schools, and that’s why we changed the number,” Quisenberry said. “We didn’t want to add more and take time out of the learning process.”
The previous law required K-12 schools to complete six fire drills, two lockdown drills and two tornado drills per year.
Quisenberry said there were several issues regarding when the schools did the drills. Some did as many as six drills in one day. Some did the drills over spring break, while students were not even in the schools, and some did not abide by the drill requirements at all.
“We came up with a law that was far more clear and ensuring compliance in how the drills will be reported, monitored and ensured they were done,” Quisenberry said.
Chief Ed Cary, of Southfield Fire Station No. 5, said that he hopes the new rules will properly prepare children for emergencies.
“The biggest issue is that we have to keep everybody in a state of preparedness, so they know what to do in a state of emergency,” Cary said. “When people aren’t prepared, they’re running amuck. Kids need to learn how to be prepared.”
A representative for Southfield Public Schools declined to comment on the drills.
County Executive L. Brooks Patterson said the county is doing everything it can to help the schools comply with the rules.
“Oakland County is utilizing its know-how to assist our schools with meeting the requirements of the new emergency drill,” said Patterson in a press release. “This collaboration will play a key part in conforming to the new standards.”
The legislation passed 34-0 in the Senate and 81-27 in the House.
For more information, visit oakgov.com/homelandsecurity or call the Homeland Security Division at (248) 858-5300.
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