Hope for the Best, Expect the Worst

Disasters can happen at any time, here is how CHS prepares for them

While this school hasn’t gone through many disasters, School Resource Officer (SRO) Shane VanNatter said CHS should be prepared at all times. 

“The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) finds Indiana to be high-risk for tornados. The state averages about 22 tornadoes per year. The state is in a ‘red-zone’ which means it sees winds up to 250 miles per hour, so we should be ready in advance for any scenarios that would come our way,” VanNatter said. 

VanNatter, who is a part of the law enforcement branch of the Carmel Police Department (CPD), is also a mentor and educator for the CPD cadet program for youth who are interested in law enforcement as a career option or want to know more about policing in their community.

“We conduct state-mandated drills. Indiana does require that schools conduct at least one tornado drill and one man-made occurrence drill per semester, in addition to five drills during the school year,” VanNatter said.

Grace Guo

He added that connecting with students and staff is much harder when everyone is wearing masks, but protecting the school from intruders is also harder.

“You can read a lot about a person through their expressions and body language… With faces covered, it can be hard to identify students and staff from those that shouldn’t be inside our buildings. That is why it is so important that students wear their IDs on a lanyard and in a visible location,” VanNatter said.

VanNatter said this school has drastically changed the way it prepares for school intruders. 

 “Last year, the residents of Carmel voted for a tax increase to help make safety improvements to all CCS facilities. This included the addition of one SRO at CHS and an officer in every CCS building,” VanNatter said. “This tax referendum also paid for many new security cameras and an additional layer of door security at doors 21, 13 and 4.”

Rebecca Lee, president of the CHS Red Cross Club and sophomore, said her objective is to show students that people make a big impact around the city, state and even the country.

“I am happy to introduce CHS to what the Red Cross is and does, and bring students to make a huge difference in the community and even around the globe,” Lee said.

Lee also said she thinks that CHS is in a good place in terms of this school being safe of intruders. 

 “There are more police officers in the school, which I believe increases our safety significantly,” she said.

She also said people can prepare for natural disasters in various ways, often depending on the type of disaster and the area you live in. 

“For example, you can prepare for disasters, such as hurricanes, if you find yourself needing to evacuate, or any kind of disaster in which you need to go or stay in areas without ample resources is a good start,” she said. “You can also plan in advance where you would evacuate if needed, what you will do in a disaster your area is subject to, and what materials you will need.”

“The Red Cross has a feature called Missing Maps, where volunteers can virtually map locations of buildings, houses, and other locations ranging from your community to the globe in order to help those in that area when a natural disaster comes their direction,” Lee added.

Lee also wants the school to have a “go bag” for people in the building at the times of unexpected disasters.

“I believe the school can prepare emergency kits for students just in case a serious tornado/severe weather heads our way. Furthermore, if the school has enough funding, more storm shelters should be available for all students to safely go to if interior rooms do not provide adequate safety,” Lee said.

Lee also thinks donating blood would be extremely helpful to the people who get injured during disasters. 

“Participating in blood drives are significantly helpful,” Lee said. “In natural disasters, especially those where numerous people will become injured, blood can be an integral factor in determining the survival of individuals.”

Sophomore Jihoon Kwon, who survived a Category 4 hurricane, said most tropical storms come unexpectedly and expand upon arrival.

“It was kind of unexpected; I knew that a storm was coming, but the storm got larger,” Kwon said. “So what was projected to be another rainfall turned into a whole subtropical storm.”

Kwon said people can prepare for intruders by hiring more staff members at most or all the entry points to the school, but Kwon said he hopes no one has to go through any natural disasters at any point in their life.

“My WiFi got knocked out for a week or so. It was a pretty scary moment at the time for my family and I,” he said. “If people are prepared, then they would be more ready for disasters (like a hurricane).