Students and teachers of the St. Lawrence Primary made a quick dash on Wednesday to higher ground when that school carried a tsunami evacuation exercise.
Around 9:45 am, three warning blasts were sounded and the pupils led by their teachers made their way through the back gate, along a designated path to the assembly point at the Ministry of Agriculture. They then returned to the school shortly after 10 am when the all clear was given.
The day’s proceedings were closely monitored by staff from the Fire Service, Royal Barbados Police Force, Department of Emergency Management (DEM), Barbados Defence Force and the Roving Response team.
Principal, Gloria Bryan told The Barbados Advocate that this is the first occasion the simulation had been staged. However, she did say that the school annually conducts fire drills. Bryan further stated that the school thought it necessary to conduct the day’s exercise because of the school’s proximity to the sea and to sensitise members of the school about what they should do if a tsunami were to occur.
The headmistress, whose school comprises 245 students, additionally made the suggestion that other schools across the island should conduct similar tsunami evacuation exercises.
This point was also made by Danielle Skeete, Programme Officer with the DEM. She said, “It is definitely something that I am pleased that the St. Lawrence Primary School has taken the initiative to do it and I am hoping that after seeing them other schools will do likewise.”
Making a similar comment was Education Officer, Nursery and Primary with responsibility for the St. Lawrence Primary School, Shamin Ally. She also described the day’s simulation as “a very timely exercise” as well as shared the Education Ministry’s support for such an activity.
“The school population changes from time to time, children pass out and new children [come in]. The staff too, they are reallocated… Therefore everyone should be sensitised on a yearly basis to this kind of experience. You never know when a disaster is going to strike so it is something that should happen every single year.”