Elementary school is pilot site for disaster training

NORWALK - Sanchez Elementary School in Norwalk has been selected to serve as the pilot site of a partnership between schools, the city of Norwalk and the Save the Children charity to provide emergency preparedness training for students, parents, staff and community members.The goal of the School Preparedness, Inter-Community Readiness, Inter-Agency Training (SPIRIT) program is to engage agencies and the community to ensure the safety of students during an emergency, such as an earthquake or other large-scale disaster. "There could be so much damage to the community that there may not be enough public safety personnel to go around and get to a school quickly enough," said Sanchez Elementary principal Alicia Rubio. "With this program, we are building the capacity within the community to handle the situation until support arrives." Norwalk emergency services manager Raquel Vernola has been working closely with the staff at Sanchez to launch the program, which began Sept. 26. Students were treated to activities and presentations that incorporated a theme of preparedness. Together with Save the Children, the city of Norwalk also donated 500 backpacks filled with safety supplies for students to take home. "To be a model school for this program is a major coup for Sanchez Elementary," said Norwalk-La Mirada Unified superintendent Dr. Ruth Perez. "SPIRIT has the potential of being a life-saving program and the District is proud to be a partner." Vernola anticipates building relationships with first-responders to develop training for the community areas such as first aid and CPR. If successful, the SPIRIT program may expand to other schools and other districts, Rubio said.

********** Published: Oct. 17, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 27