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10.10.2013 Feature Article

Lack Of Evacuation Drills In Ghanaian Schools And Public Places: A Security Threat

Lack Of Evacuation Drills In Ghanaian Schools And Public Places: A Security Threat
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With the recent bombing of a mall in Kenya, which led to the death of so many innocent lives, it is of great importance that Ghanaians should take a cue from Kenya. Growing up in Ghana during the Rawlings Era I witnessed all the coups and attempted coups between 1979 until democratic governance in 1994. To be precise, I grew up in Osu, so you should understand that I know the anxiety and fear when you hear sounds of gun shots and bomb explosions.

One thing I remember as a third grader on June 4th 1979, which started as a normal day, was that I was dropped off at school shortly after which there was a coup de tat. I ended up going home with a friend and it took my parents a whole day to find me. It has been over twenty years and Ghanaian schools still don't have an evacuation policy, a lock down policy, etc. should there be crises.

Evacuation Plan
In the USA it's required that schools must have evacuation plans in case of fire, terrorist attack, and for natural occurrences such as Tornado etc. Both Teachers and students will follow the evacuation plan to exit the buildings to a safe or designated place. In some cases students will be loaded on buses and completely evacuated to a designated place which will be the meeting point with parents. Also local law enforcement agencies, such as police and fire departments have copies of all the evacuation plans of the district and this enables them to respond swiftly to any threat.

Lock Down
Also in the event of a threat in which exiting the school building could be dangerous, the school or building can go into a lock down mode. The door to the classroom is locked and well secured to prevent anybody from entering; the students and teachers hide in a designated area or secured part of the classroom and remain there until a central command is given to clear the building as safe.

In order for schools to be perfect on their evacuation plans, they are required to practice mock fire drills or mock lockdowns for all students to master the plans in case of a lockdown.

Do Ghanaian schools have an evacuation plan? In case of a terrorist attack on a Ghanaian school or mall are we ready to evacuate swiftly? Would our children know where to go once they exit their classrooms or building during such situations? Will parents know the designated points to go and meet their children? Will law enforcement have any practiced protocols to follow to counter an attack on a school?

Looking back I think if there was an evacuation plan at the primary school I attended in 1979 it would have been easier for my parents to locate me. But I sincerely believe that most Ghanaian schools, even the universities, and most public places in Ghana do not have any well practiced evacuation or lock down policies. Looking at what is going on in Africa today I believe it is of great importance that the security capos in Ghana should have this topic as a high priority in trying to ensure safety of our children and citizens.

Abraham Steiner
Abraham Steiner , © 2013

The author has 5 publications published on Modern Ghana.Column: AbrahamSteiner

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