- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Schools in the city of Bedford joined the city and the rest of the Commonwealth in a tornado drill yesterday. The city has a community warning siren and tested it at 9:45 a.m.
According to William Crumpacker, the city's emergency management planner, the siren is designed to warn people who may be outside to take shelter. The siren sounds for three minutes with a high and low tone. A three minute constant tone serves as the all clear signal. Schools in the city are equipped with a radio that is activated with the siren.
Schools take tornadoes seriously. A few years ago, quick thinking by Goodview Elementary School principal Eddie Zimmerman, probably prevented children from being injured. A tornado touched down near the school. While it didn't hit the school, it flung debris on school grounds. This happened when students would have normally been boarding buses, but Zimmerman delayed letting the kids out of school due to tornado warnings.
According to Ryan Edwards, Bedford County Public Schools' spokesman, every school in the county has a tornado plan and has drills. Schools in the county held their drills today. Each school has its own plan because the design of each school is different and the number of children involved is different. The plans also have to take into account children with disabilities and how to get them promptly to safety.
According to Sue Saunders, Bedford Elementary's principal, the children are taken to interior halls closest to their classrooms. The children then kneel on the floor, head against a wall, and tuck themselves into a ball with their hands covering their heads.
Some classrooms are on hallways with windows. In these situations, the children are taken into the restrooms. Saunders said that the idea is to get them away from glass windows.
During Monday's drill, the children moved quickly, in an orderly fashion, to the correct locations, guided by teachers, tucked themselves into the correct position and stayed quietly until given the all clear by their teachers.
"When something like a tornado is going on, you don't want to get hurt," commented Scott Messier, a fifth grader.
Messier knows a little about what a tornado can do. He was five years old when a tornado struck Bedford on a Sunday afternoon in April, 2002.
"We were at a friend's house and went to the basement," Messier recalled.
He also remembers the damage the storm did.
The school has apparently done a good job at impressing kids, who have never seen a twister, about the importance of the drills. Noble Longstreet's family was living in another area in 2002, so he has no personal experience with tornadoes. Nevertheless, he noted that the drills are important because students need to know what to do, in spite of the discomfort involved in the drills.
"It's really uncomfortable," he commented, describing what it's like to stay in that tucked position on the floor for several minutes.