Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in a functional exercise developed by Lamar Consolidated Independent School District (LCISD). I was deployed to Wessendorff Middle School in Rosenberg to assist in the exercise, and then offer suggestions for improvements following the event. The staff at Wessendorf fdid a fantastic job managing the incident, which included a simulated tornado, causing damage to the building and the need for student evacuation. Within minutes of the simulated tornado causing damage to the school, the Assistant Principal Lorena Callis was unexpectedly put in charge of response (because the exercise controllers, like me, told the Principal that she was incapacitated).
All members of the Exercise Control Team assigned to Wessendorff, led by Ray Burciaga from the Richmond Fire Department, were impressed by the quick reactions of all the teachers; the diligence of the Crisis Action Team members; and the processes used by Wessendorff officials to protect the students in their facility. It is possible Ms. Callis put it best when she said “that most of what needed to be done was simply common sense.”
As in any exercise, some “lessons learned” were identified. Most of these needed fixes are small ones; though a couple may require the expenditure of funds by the District. Ms. Callis and Principal Diana Freudensprung appear committed to making these changes in the next few weeks. Administration officials who planned the exercise, including Katherine Bowen and Trudy Harris, will be conducting an After Action Review tomorrow. I know they will be making suggestions to improve the emergency response process at all District schools, and if deemed necessary in their opinion, will recommend budget changes designed to improve response.