Serving the community since 1970

City, school district ready if disaster hits

The City of Wasco and the school district are prepared to handle a disaster or emergency if they occur, top officials say.

Assistant Superintendent Brad Maberry at the Wasco Union Elementary School District and Wasco City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez both outlined their disaster program in case a natural disaster or emergency situation occurs.

Maberry said the school district is part of a collaborative known as an Emergency Operations Center, which both the City of Wasco and the school district are members.

An EOC is a centralized location to support multiagency, multijurisdiction disaster response coordination and communication. During an emergency, staff in the EOC will assist partners in effective emergency management.

The Kern County EOC center is near Bakersfield College on Panorama Drive.

According to the EOC website, if the power goes out in Kern County, they have an emergency generator with a 2,000-gallon fuel tank to keep the entire facility running for up to seven days without refueling.

The types of disasters that have occurred in Kern County include earthquakes, power outages, fires, water main issues and building lockdowns.

Maberry stressed that the biggest concern is for student safety at the district. The district updates its safety plan every March and begins working on it during the summer. “Safety is on everyone’s mind,” Maberry said. “It’s what keeps us up at night.”

Ortiz-Hernandez stressed that staff safety is always uppermost in managements’ mind.

Each location has an evacuation plan and a relocation area where everyone will meet up after evacuation.

“What parents need to realize is their children are safest at school because staff has been trained in safety,” Maberry said.

Maberry also stated that safety plans are always changing because the times are constantly changing. “Before Columbine, school shootings were virtually unheard of,” he said.

Maberry was asked about 9/11 and how the students reacted to that incident. “For us, it was pretty peaceful,” Maberry said. “Our attendance was lower because parents kept their children at home. We kept the kids inside in a lock-down situation.”

“The biggest concern for us is how will we plan for crowd control,” Maberry said. “Parents will come to the school if an emergency arises and want to pick up their kid immediately. What they don’t realize is we have to handle one student at a time to make sure they are going home with a person designated for emergency pickup.”

Parents should remember that there are multiple trained adults on a school campus that have all taken training classes and can protect the children the best.

“We are the only school district in the county that trains teachers in major bleed events,” Maberry said. “We are part of the ‘Stop the Bleed’ Campaign.”

The school district also has multiple Automated External Defibrillators.

One of Ortiz-Hernandez’s concerns is that the city cell phones used by essential personnel go out.

“When the earthquake happened in Ridgecrest, we did not send responders because they requested inspectors for buildings and residences, and we didn’t have anyone available,” Ortiz-Hernandez said.


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