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Safety: Cause for Pause!

By Jennifer Keys

Wow what a day! I’m a planner. I never planned for this, though.

While at work my husband texted me that the kids had been evacuated from the elementary school. I was on the phone with a very understanding client. I listened to my voicemail and learned that the school had followed the procedures they had outlined for emergencies and my children were at the Church of the Living Waters’. This was somewhat comforting because I’m somewhat familiar with the building and I knew that their teachers and school staff were looking out for them and I was sure they had plans for this.

What I didn’t know was whether or not my son or his staff had an Epi-Pen with them. I was certain there would be food as it was lunch time and how better to pass the time and keep people calm than to feed them. You see for us safety has an entirely different meaning than it does for most. Shelter and caring, competent staff are awesome, but then there’s the food thing. As a child with an anaphylactic allergy to peanuts and tree nuts he was in danger of being exposed to a deadly, yes deadly, allergen in this environment and I had no control over it. So began my nightmare. My in-laws aren’t on the robo-call list, so they were completely unaware. The chief of police, who I am lucky to know, was busy, of course. What was the point in calling the school, after all it was evacuated? I could try the church, but wouldn’t all of the parents be doing that? I tried the village clerk, thank goodness, and Java’s. It made me feel better to know that someone with authority knew that I was a little panic stricken by the thought of my son in a potentially uncontrolled, hazardous environment and let’s face it, if you want to know anything you contact the local coffee shop, no matter where you live. I also tried the one teacher’s cell number I had just-in-case. Of course she didn’t answer; it was probably in her purse locked in the drawer of her desk, because who goes to work thinking they need to carry everything with them in anticipation of evacuation.

Fortunately for me, the school nurse had my cell number. She called. She had an Epi-Pen with her, but there was going to be food and we could come get him if we wanted to. Of course! Fortunately, having called my in-laws first they were waiting and ready to go when I called to pick him up. I thought I was breathing then, but when my father-in-law called to say he was in their car I suddenly realized that I still hadn’t been breathing; not even after the nurse’s call. In my mind, even though there was an Epi-Pen and competent people taking care of him, it was still a tenuous situation because there was going to be peanut butter, but once he was in his grandparents’ car that threat was gone and suddenly I really was breathing again.

Before I even got back to Le Roy I received the robo-call stating that the school was clear. There was no longer a threat and they had returned the children back to school for the day. Wow! Wow, because until that moment it had never really occurred to me that there could actually be a bomb there. I thought it was likely a hoax by a disturbed child who didn’t really realize what it meant. All of a sudden it occurred to me that precautionary measures have roots in reality. It could have been a true threat. It suddenly seemed more real. Wow, because the person who apparently put forth this hoax really did not have a true understanding of the depths, the varying levels at which this threat could go. Wow, because apparently with all of the planning we have done to make school safe for my son I realized I had no clue what the plan was for evacuation in regards to him. But mostly, Wow, because we are fortunate enough to live in a society that so proactively plans and is able to mobilize in such a quick fashion to ensure the safety of our most precious resources. We have staff at our school and in our village who know how to take care of business quickly and who do so without thought of harm to themselves. After all, whoever investigated this was taking a personal risk; there really could have been a bomb and it really could have gone off causing serious injury or worse…

When I arrived at my in-laws to pick up my children one was without backpack and hat and the other was without everything. That was probably the happiest I have ever been to see my children on a cold March day without proper outside attire. Will they end up with colds? Probably. Will those colds be a pain? Undoubtedly. Do I care? NOPE, because they are alive and colds are temporary!

So, what was the purpose of today’s rambling blog? Selfishly, I had to just kind of have diarrhea of the fingertips and get it all out because I don’t seem to be able to wrap my head around this entirely, even with all of my professional experience to back me up. Also, I hope that it made someone laugh because we all have our breaking point and I definitely know mine! I also hope it puts everything in perspective for everyone involved; it has for me.

Finally, I write this to thank everyone involved with keeping our children safe and for understanding the concerns of all of us panic stricken parents. What a truly hard, but worthwhile job you have, that I’m sure is not yet complete as I write this. Thank you! Thank you!! Thank you!!! We are all indebted to you!

I’m so grateful for living in such an advanced society!

What if we didn’t have cell phones? Or even worse, evacuation plans? Sure I would still be at work enjoying my ignorant bliss, but what if he was exposed to peanut butter? In hindsight, I’ll take today’s chaos over ignorant bliss any day!

As always, thanks for reading!

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