Code Red

>> Tuesday, 5 October 2010

So here's another thing that makes me realise I'm not in Kansas anymore, Toto...

I was present at Boy #2's swimming lesson this morning when the school did one of their regular 'Code Red' drills. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, 'Code Red' is the call that is put out when there are hostile forces present on school premises. Terrorists, to you and me. During this type of drill, the school is locked down, the children are told to be as quiet as possible (if they're in their class they hide in a corner, blinds drawn, doors bolted), and the security team - for yes, that's what you get at expat schools (amongst others) in Moscow - tour the buildings trying the doors to the classrooms and making sure that should the unthinkable happen, the children are as protected as they possibly could be.

Doesn't bear thinking about, does it?

So, generally, I don't.

Didn't have much choice today though; I had volunteered to help Boy #2's class get changed before and after their swimming lesson, so when, about 70% of the way through it, the call went out, I was automatically part of the drill. The class of four year-olds was evacuated from the pool, hidden in a changing room, and asked to be as quiet as mice. And just in case the mums who were there on change-room duty weren't taking it seriously enough, one of the team of swim instructors who joined us seated himself on the floor and wedged himself side-on and back to the wall across the locked-from-the-inside door to ensure it stayed that way. (Why sideways on, on the floor? Well that minimises the chances of being hit should a bullet be fired through the lock, you understand...)

Well, they needn't have worried about our taking it seriously. You could have heard a pin drop. It was a sobering experience to be part of - and yet I can't help but be glad that for Boy #2's first Code Red drill, I was there with my arm around him. He wouldn't have been bothered either way, of course; it's not as if they explained to the children what was going on. As far as they were concerned, it was just a different type of Fire Drill.

But having his little swim-suit clad body pressed into mine certainly made me feel a whole lot better about the whole thing...


workingberlinmum 5 October 2010 at 20:26  

What a sad world we live in when kids have to even be aware that situations like this may be neccessary. When I was at school I was too busy caring about if the boy next to me liked me or not not worrying about terrorists!

Calif Lorna 5 October 2010 at 20:32  

The boys do lock down drills here. I was really shocked when they came home and described it to me the first time.

Then they had a real one - some guys stole a car and drove towards the school purely by coincidence. The training seemed to help, the police called the school and they all went into lock down mode.

Scary, scary stuff.

Tattie Weasle 5 October 2010 at 21:00  

OMG that just totally rocked me. Brought back the things my Dad did when we lived in those weird and wonderful places in Africa. I never thought of them as scary or that they might be useful. I just thought of them as the stupid drills dad made us do every holiday, I suspect I thought it was for his own amusement but reading this I shivered because he was doing it to save our lives...

Mwa 5 October 2010 at 21:38  

What a scary thing to go through. I suppose it's good they practice if the threat is real, but that is very disturbing.

nappy valley girl 5 October 2010 at 23:22  

How completely terrifying... but good that they do it, I suppose.

I have no idea if they do that here - but I would not be surprised.

Iota 6 October 2010 at 04:53  

My kids have lock-down drill, like Calif Lorna's (and once, when there was a robbery at a local shopping mall and the robber was seen heading in the direction of the school, it was for real, because here you assume that a robber might well be armed).

They also have tornado drill. It all scares me, but I feel reassured when I think of all the bomb scares we had at school, when we had to evacuate the building and the police would wander through looking vaguely for bombs for about 10 minutes. It didn't upset any of us in the slightest (but I can imagine it probably freaked our parents out - of course I only know that now).

So I guess, Toto, we're not in Kansas any more either.

The Expatresse 6 October 2010 at 13:14  

Jeez. How horrifying. Yeah, we had tornado drills, too. And those a bit older than I am had bomb drills (like The Bomb). So I guess it's nothing new. But this puts awful Beslan images in my head.


Michelloui 6 October 2010 at 13:28  

Sad that it is a reality but how good that they practice it. And it sounds really well thought out. That's the reassuring part I guess.

I remember the nuclear war drills I had when I was about 9-13 (Cold War Era). We would watch terrifying movies about what happens if a bomb is dropped then sirens would go and we all had to hide under our desks. I know I wasn't the only one who noticed that hiding under a desk wouldn't protect me from what happened on the movies.

Footballers Knees 6 October 2010 at 16:40  

My god, that's really scary. Sort of wish I hadn't read it. Come home now, young lady!
BTW - won't be mentioning this one to Mum! x

Paradise Lost In Translation 7 October 2010 at 14:44  

yes, we had to do this when we live din Sri Lanka, cos there was a civil war raging in the country. Theyhad special 'safe houses' too, shd the schl need evacuatiing fo rany reason, & obv, I guess, for security reasons, parents weren't allowed to know ehere these saf ehouses were. That made me slightly wobbly & it is q sobering, worse than the jollity thatfire drills always were at school for me.

Lady Perkleton 8 October 2010 at 15:17  

Blimmin heck! Sad it has to happen but i bet its effective. We used to have regular bomb scares back in my old school days and we were well practiced at evacuation - all because of the IRA & the Swansea-Cork ferry!

kratosellas 9 October 2010 at 12:43

nixdminx 10 October 2010 at 19:25  

Wow that's quite a story. We had a bomb threat when I was a kid and I remember having to get out of bed at 2am and stand shivering in the street. But we never got to do anything like that. Very sobering indeed.

Sparx 10 October 2010 at 23:47  

Wow; that's serious... kind of reassuring...

Dulwich Divorcee 11 October 2010 at 13:36  

That gave me shivers. So glad you were there, even if it was more for your own peace of mind than your little boy's. What a world, eh?

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Pig in the Kitchen 15 October 2010 at 08:59  

Yuk, that sounds really scary. My blood ran a little cold just thinking about it.

Can't put a witty spin on that really, except I think I'm about to email our headmaster to have them implemented.

Pig x

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