Beyond the wall of black smoke is one of my preschools. this past Thursday the students and staff safely evacuated after a fire broke out in a garage in the shared alley behind our school. The garage sits directly across from our school and the smoke quickly penetrated our building.
This is the garage that caught fire. Several years ago, this same garage was the site of daytime gun violence where multiple shots were fired, and one person was injured while school was in session.
The remnant of the burned-out garage is pictured here. You can see It sits directly behind my school, with classroom windows facing the shared alley where this garage was located.
Thanks to the quick-thinking staff, our students safely evacuated to another one of my preschools. I was not at their school that day because I cover multiple buildings, but I was so glad to be able to welcome them to another school when they arrived. And this is school nursing too; responding to emergency evacuations; helping to call parents to reassure them that their child was safe, but needed immediate pick-up; surveilling the scene to be sure everyone is safe and calm, and addressing multiple needs simultaneously. I think one of the most important skills school nurses have is to be able to anticipate the needs of students and staff, especially during an emergency.
One of our amazing parents had planned to celebrate their child’s birthday in school that day, but when she got the call about the evacuation, she brought the party to our evacuation site! It was amazing to be able to celebrate in the midst of what the adults knew was a very scary event. Our students were well cared for, had pizza and birthday cake, and played happily in the playground of the guest school that hosted them. What could have been a terrifying day, was well managed, with a positive outcome, safe and happy preschoolers doing what they do best, enjoying life.
And this is school nursing too…These are the stories that we must tell, the ones that don’t necessarily translate into data points but are nonetheless equally important. It is the presence of a school nurse (s) as part of the school community that counts the most. We are not a compilation of tasks that we perform. School nurses are integral members of the school community and an investment in student and staff wellbeing. The look of relief on the staff’s faces when they saw that I was there to greet them was priceless to me. Our presence matters, we need to fight for school nurses in every building, every day.