POST BY: Charles Broers, Head of Security at the BSN
I don’t know how it is elsewhere, but here at the BSN I have days that make me feel so proud and yet at the same time so humble. Why? Let me explain. The safety and security of our students is incredibly important to the BSN. Parents trust their children in our care knowing that we will provide the best education and so much more to help prepare them for the world. At the same time, we have the duty to provide a carefree and safe learning environment for them to perform at their best and still be able to be children.
At the beginning of each term, new students and teachers just starting at the BSN have to get familiar with the safety and security procedures here. This means we have to practice. We all know that the weather in the Netherlands is subject to change quite rapidly. Being Dutch, I know that in the Netherlands we can experience all four seasons in one day – and that is just an average Monday! Of the many procedures we need to train for, the evacuation exercise is the most difficult one to practice at this time of the year. The weather is unpredictable and never pleasant to stand outside in.
However, to make sure that both BSN staff and students know what to do in the case of an emergency, this exercise is crucial to perform, regardless of the weather. Of course in severe weather conditions, we will not perform the evacuation exercise (I’m not that mean!) but in all fairness, we need to be prepared at all times. A few weeks ago, it was once again time to perform evacuation drills at the BSN.
I continue to be genuinely amazed at the professional and adult behavior of our students. I know this is something that every Head of Security says, but I truly have the best kids in my school. Under the very committed leadership of our teachers and staff, all junior students (ages 3-12) were safely outside in 3 to 4 minutes, and the senior students (ages 12-18) were safely outside in 7 minutes. In the 25 years that I’ve worked in the field of security, I wish I could have seen those response times with adults. This what makes me incredibly proud – the fact that we, the BSN team, are accomplishing this together with the students. These are the BSN values at its best (Head-Hand-Heart).
Now for the downside. Seeing our students and colleagues standing outside in the bad weather, even if just for a few minutes, makes me feel a bit like a movie villain. Especially since we do not inform anyone about the exercise beforehand. Is this bad? Yes it is. I am fully aware of it, but in my defense we need to simulate every drill as a real situation. If we teach our students and staff to first put on their jackets before leaving, we are wasting precious time, what we might not have during a real fire. Luckily all procedures are developed in such a way that fires are discovered in an early stage, and in case we have to stay outside for a longer period of time, indoor assembly points are available close by.
But what can we still improve on from these fire drills? It is mandatory for staff and visitors to register in and out. This is for the simple reason that in the case of an evacuation, we can know who was in the building and if they are accounted for at the assembly point. Teachers know within 1 minute if all their students are accounted for. When a visitor or staff member is not registered out, the system still assumes that this person is inside and we waste valuable time searching. Think of all those poor students standing outside waiting for the “all safe signal”, and suddenly I’m not the only villain in the school anymore!
If we can come to an agreement with staff, parents and visitors to always register in and out at a BSN campus, we will make the school even safer, and more importantly, achieve a much shorter and more effective evacuation.
Thanks you for cooperating and stay safe.