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West Mifflin

Area School District

Emergency Response Operations
Emergency Response Operations

WMASD Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Pertaining to WMASD Emergency Response Operations

What is emergency preparedness?

WMASD has taken steps to ensure your child's safety while in school. Each school has developed a crisis response plan. Emergency preparedness is basically preparing the steps you will take in the event of an emergency, such as contact information, communications, and evacuation plans.

How can I stay informed?

WMASD broadcasts emergency messages, when necessary, using a number of media. General emergency messages, early and late school openings and closings can be found on the school system public web www.wmasd.org messages and  Emergency messages are transmitted to local media, and parents are encouraged to listen to radio or television.

What is lockdown?

An emergency may prevent the safe evacuation of a school building and require steps to isolate students and faculty from danger by instituting a school lockdown. In an interior lockdown situation, all students are kept in classrooms or other designated locations that are away from the danger. Faculty members are responsible for accounting for students and ensuring that no one leaves the safe area. School personnel will also secure building entrances, ensuring that no unauthorized individuals leave or enter the building. Exterior lockdown procedures may also be used to ensure the safety of students when an incident occurs in the community. Parents are permitted access to the building and to their children if it is safe for them to do so.

In the event of a terrorist attack or other emergency situation, will WMASD go into lockdown?

The specific actions taken by WMASD in any emergency situation-both district wide  and at individual schools-will depend on the specifics of the situation. Any action taken would depend on several factors, including the level of threat and the advice of local, state, and federal agencies. The safety of students and staff members will be the primary concern in any decision.

What is shelter-in-place?

Shelter In Place is a short-term solution to a short-term problem. If an accident or attack that created contaminated air occurred in the nearby area, everyone would be brought indoors, including those in trailers. Building personnel would close all windows and doors and shut down the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC). This would create a neutral pressure in the building, meaning the contaminated air would not be drawn into the building.

Shelter-in-place is a short-term measure (measured in minutes or hours, not days) designed to use a facility and its indoor atmosphere to temporarily separate people from a hazardous outdoor environment. The alternative would be to evacuate into a hazardous situation, thereby causing harm to all involved.

No stockpiling of water and food is needed for shelter-in-place. Any event of a magnitude that required such stockpiling would require that we all take our direction from the federal emergency management officials. Parents are concerned that, during a shelter-in-place activity, they couldn't pick up their children and might be separated from them for long periods of time. That will not happen; if the air outside the school is safe for parents to breathe, it is safe for their children to breathe. School system personnel have developed a plan that uses the best possible method for ensuring the safety of students and staff members in this type of crisis. Remember, it is not the school system's intention to keep children from their parents. WMASD personnel are merely endeavoring to keep children safe for parents until the parents can pick them up.

Are schools stockpiling food and water?

The school system is taking action to make sure that schools and offices have the appropriate resources available for a short-term event. In the event of a large-scale catastrophic event, WMASD would rely on local, state and federal authorities for assistance.

There has been no request by state, local, or federal crisis experts that we stockpile food or water. 

The WMASD shelter-in-place plan is to be used only in the event of a chemical, biohazard, or radiological event. In any one of these situations--which are usually localized (i.e., do not cover a wide area)--persons typically need to remain indoors only a few hours before the hazard literally blows away. After the danger has passed, children and staff members will be free to go to their homes.

There may be other events that would cause people to be housed for longer periods of time in public buildings such as schools--a bomb attack, for instance, which has destroyed homes. In such an event, other community agencies, including the Red Cross, would be responsible for providing food and water. This response would be a shelter, not a shelter-in-place.  In all critical events of this magnitude, the school district becomes part of a larger emergency response team.

Why aren't the schools storing three days of water and food for each child as is being recommended for homes?

Most of the envisioned emergency situations would be localized short-term events and would not call for long-term supplies. It is unreasonable to expect our facilities to stockpile three days worth of food and water inside each facility

 

 

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