Sunday, June 13, 2010

Small Plane Crashes Into Arizona High School, Four People Killed

(June 2010)  A small Cessna plane crashed into Round Valley High School in Eager, a small eastern Arizona town. The Cessna plane circled the area two or three times before it suddenly nosedived into the main building at Round Valley High School at about 2 p.m. and exploded. There were no reports of injuries on the ground and the blaze was contained to the main school building. Two hours later, flames were still erupting 20 to 30 feet above the roof of the two-story school. Fortunately, classes were out for the summer so no students or school personnel were injured. The school serves about 500 students in Eager and nearby Springerville and is about 200 miles east of Phoenix.

Four witnesses tried to get into the school building, but the doors were locked. As they were leaving, the plane exploded. Fire crews from nearly a dozen small towns in the region raced to battle the flames which occurred overnight and into the next day. Officials evacuated homes in neighborhoods east and north of the school. Authorities found four bodies in the plane wreckage pending further identification and a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigation.

Some Things To Consider:
  • Any incident is possible in regards to school preparedness. Who would ever imagine a small plane would crash into your school? Accident? Suicide or Attack? It is important to always ask yourself, "What If ...?" What would you do?
  • When wargaming for natural or man-made incidents affecting your school, it is all about preparedness / prevention, NOT PARANOIA. (Al Qaeda attacking your school is considerably less likely than a disgruntled parent coming to take their child from school during a custody battle.)
  • How many Fire departments (full time, volunteer, or combination of both) are prepared for a no-notice aviation (small or large plane or helo) crash in a residential area, let alone a school?
  • Had that plane crash occurred during a school day, what would the School Evacuation, Mass Casualty, and Student Reunification Plan be????
    • How would you conduct student and employee accountability?
  • School Facility Recovery Phase: Post Fire Cleanup, School Facility Damage (Fire, Smoke, Water, Structural) Assessment, NSTB Investigation Scene, Insurance Investigation, Possible Crime Scene Site?, Post Incident Facility Safety and Security considerations.
  • School COOP (Continuity of Operations):
    • Were there summer classes or events scheduled? 
    • What school critical functions have been affected by the plane crash?
    • What is the level of damage to these school critical functions?
    • How and When will these damages be fixed? 
    • Will this timeline conflict with the full or partial opening of the school's opening?

1 comment:

Bob Killackey said...

I remember when I wrote this post I wondered how readers might respond to the probability of a plane striking a school. On Sept 16, 2011 a small plane crashed one foot from the side of an elementary school in Utah. Plane debris hit the vegetation and sidewalk outside the school. No students were injured, but the pilot was killed. Sometimes the worst case scenario is exactly what happens, unfortunately.