When Cleveland ISD Police Chief Rex Evans decides to go all out he does just that for the safety of his students. Several years ago a drill was held involving a rolled over a school bus with students trapped. A few months later that drill came in handy as the real thing happened. Last year the drill was an active shooter incident in the school. Thank goodness that hasn’t been needed yet.
Wednesday morning just after 8 am fire alarms started sounding in the school. The source was the chemistry lab where it was reported some students made an acid bomb that exploded in a glass beaker. The school was cleared and Cleveland Fire Department was dispatched along with Cleveland EMS. Close to 20 students lay both conscious and unconscious in the Chemistry Lab as smoke filled the room. One student wondered why all the students were cleared out of the school and they were left behind.A teacher who was part of the drill and also a victim in the classroom explained that they were all contaminated and if the classroom door was opened the potential of contaminating the entire student body. Cleveland firefighters were outside the room within minutes. However, not knowing what chemical they were dealing with they contacted Harris County Hazardous Materials Team located at the Harris County Fire Marshal’s Office on Atascocita. Many first responders felt almost useless as they were forced to stand by waiting on the HazMat Team to arrive.
Once the team arrived things started to happen and very quickly. Additional ambulances were called in, Life Flight and PHI Air Medical were dispatched to the scene. Houston North East and Conroe Regional Hospitals were alerted to a potentially large number of patients arriving. A DECON tent was set up to wash victims down as they were evacuated from the classroom. Firefighters from Cleveland and Porter Fire Departments suited up in HAZMAT suits along with air packs. Using plastic sleds which Porter Fire Department carried on their trucks they started evacuating students. The first walking wounded were brought down and immediately put through the decontamination booth. As they exited they were scanned for any residual hazardous components.
All the while this went n command staff worked out of the HAZMAT Vehicle which was equipped with cameras and radios which linked every department together for communications. Two students were flown out on PHI Air Medical. Others were transported by Montgomery County Hospital District, Liberty County EMS and Cleveland EMS and Atascocita Fire Departments Mass Casualty Bus capable of transporting 10 plus patients.
After close to 3 hours the drill concluded. Officials now will look at the entire drill and learn of any changes that could be done to make it more efficient. Officials from other districts were also in attendance to watch the drill. They too learned from it and will be able to implement what they saw in their own schools.
According to Rex Evans, the drill took over six months of the weekly meetings to put it together.
It was deemed a very successful drill.
WATCH THE VIDEO OF THE ENTIRE DRILL