Westmer Elementary excels during emergency

Cathy Decker/Staff reporter

What's in a fire drill -- Loud clanging bells, buzzers, chaos, excitement, well, sometimes.

When everyone knows there is going to be a fire drill and is prepared by recent instructions on how and where to proceed, then it's more of a disappointment.

At least that's what a letter from the New Boston Volunteer Fire and Ambulance to Westmer Elementary principal Nancy Robinson indicated. The letter, signed by Natalie Thompson-Giles, secretary and EMT, firefighter and safety officer, came two hours after a surprise fire drill held during the first week in November. It referenced both the mock drill, which was a surprise, and an earlier drill that everyone knew about.

EMT and secretary of the New Boston Fire and Ambulance wrote the principal stating, "Many of the department members were concerned after the last fire drill that perhaps some of the staff and students approached the drill in a lackluster way."

She went on to say, "Some of the department members actually have to take time off from work to be present at these drills, and to see students and teachers lined up and waiting for us caused some to feel that the drills weren't worth missing work."

The mock drill was held Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008. Principal Robinson said that the drill was a surprise for both fire department members and the school. There were also two stumbling blocks inserted in the scenario - a blocked stairwell and a hidden child.

"That was a test for the firemen," said Robinson.

The fire department was very pleased with the school's response, Robinson added.

Thompson's letter went on to talk about the necessity of the surprise drill. "This drill ensured the teachers that they can handle an emergency with their students, it assured the students that their teacher can keep them safe and it allows our department to 'practice' our jobs in a more realistic manner."