TMHS evacuation just a false alarm

Air tested upstairs, downstairs found to be of normal quality

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2010

Thunder Mountain High School students and staff got an impromptu test of their emergency plan on Friday, after they smelled what they thought could be gas in the hallways and evacuated the school shortly after 2 p.m.

Capital City Fire & Rescue tested the air upstairs and downstairs at the school and found it to be of normal quality, said Patti Bippus, TMHS Principal. Students returned to class shortly after 3 p.m., just in time for their final class of the day. They missed only fifth period.

"The worst thing was that people got wet," Bippus said.

Students and staff left the school and headed over to the Diamond Park Field House, as per the emergency plan, but found it to be locked. The next step in the plan is to head to the Alaska Club, across the street, but instead they went to the Riverbend Elementary School Gymnasium.

"It was kind of a good way to learn something in a safe way," Bippus said. "We learned some things to do better."

One of those is to know where the key to the field house is, she said. The other is to make sure that everyone knows what's going on - some cafeteria staff, who don't communicate via radio, didn't know what was happening.

Staff said they thought the smell to have come from a science classroom.

Bippus said staff will debrief with Student Services Director Dave Newton this week and to talk about what they can do better in emergency situations.

• Contact reporter Mary Catharine Martin at 523-2276 or maryc.martin@juneauempire.com.



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