• Active Defender Staff

What is an Evacuation Drill?

The most common evacuation drill is the fire drill.


For years kids have practiced lining up in the halls and quietly and quickly walking outside to line the sidewalks of the blocks where their school resides. Sometimes a fire truck even arrives and they stand in awe and watch the fireman carry out their part in the drill.

Teachers usually clad with walkie-talkies whose main communication hub usually resides inside the school would probably be out of luck if that hub was in a room where the fire started. Then what? Well with Active Defender, you’d have your cell phone on you and be able to communicate seamlessly with all staff members. Impressive, right? It is and when you think about the walkie-talkie scenario it makes sense. People send more time on their phones, are more familiar with how they work and normally pick up their phone first in any emergency as it is usually at their fingertips. So, it just makes sense.

Evacuation Drill Defined

What is the actual definition of an evacuation drill? It is a clear and concise plan for individuals or groups to exit a building and assemble in a safe place for roll call.

As adults we take things for granted that students spend more time on than we do. One of them is evacuation plans. Adults think oh evacuation drill, get out! Kids form a plan in their minds. Get in line; walk quietly, no talking, etc. That’s in school. Normally in most cases where an evacuation is required, people are not so orderly. They run as fast as they can toward the nearest exit or the one that they think is nearest. What if that door didn’t go outside? What if that door led to some annex or another building? Now what? Don’t stop. Keep going. But where to?

Photo by Jose Alonso on Unsplash

Evacuation Maps

Here’s how. Look around you for an evacuation map. I know you’ve seen them in hotels on the backs of doors, in schools on the backs of doors or even in hospitals. They are maps that show you the way out, the quickest, most effective way to exit the building.

A Real Emergency or Just a Mini-Emergency

I traveled for work for many years and stayed in a lot of hotels. I never thought about what I would do in an emergency until I was in one. I was in Puerto Rico on a three week-stint, doing computer training for a local bank. I went back to my hotel, grabbed something to eat and took it up to my room. I opened the door, stepped inside to complete and total darkness and flipped on the light. No sooner was the light on, and then it was off. Ugh…blown bulb? No, blackout. People were in the hallways immediately. I could hear them talking, panicking and heading for the emergency exits. I could also hear alarms, not fire alarms but alarms just the same.

The hallways had emergency lighting, so it wasn’t impossible to see. But it was still dark. I watched as people ran willy-nilly all over the place, pushed, talked and yelled at each other. I quickly and quietly decided to stay in my room. I glanced out of the window and was able to see the emergency lights from the next hotel. It was just a blackout. There was no storm on the horizon and no fire. Every hotel within my sight line was dark except for their emergency lighting.

As the yelling and running subsided outside my door, I used my cell phone flashlight to read the emergency exit plan. Then I opened my door and followed the route outlined on the map and about three minutes later exited through an emergency door into the lobby of the hotel.

I learned quickly that the evacuation was precautionary and served only to keep people away from elevators and open areas like balconies. The alarm was also sounded because doors would no longer lock electronically. They had to be locked manually. Hotel personnel would happily escort anyone that wanted to go back to their room to it provided they heard them lock the door behind them and oh yeah, promise not to come out until the lights were back on!

A few years later, I was in New Orleans just prior to a hurricane. As I watched the news, I quickly decided to end my trip early and evacuate the city before anyone told me! New Orleans is a low-lying city and I didn’t want to get stuck in a flood or just stuck period. I called the airport, rebooked my flight and got out that night! I later learned that the hotel was evacuated and in this case people were sent to a local building where they could shelter on an enclosed second floor. Not ideal, but better than sitting in a hotel room with glass all around. Still, I was glad I went home.

What is my point in sharing those two stories with you? You just never know what the emergency is and why you are being asked to leave unless you get the information from the source. How does that happen? In school it happens when a teacher tells you where to go and why or an administrator tells you to evacuate and meet over there by the bus?

Walk with Authority

The bottom line is that in most emergency situations, people are blind to what is happening and very often will decide to make their own rules. They may have read the rules, practiced them and agreed to them. Just don’t expect that they will always follow them. The same is true for children with one exception…school. In school children are taught from a very young age that their teacher will keep them safe. He or she will see them through the emergency.


Why is this important? It is important because as their teacher, you need to remain calm in the face of disaster. When everyone else is screaming and running, you need to walk calmly, quietly and with authority toward the exit. Keep your charges moving in an orderly fashion and assure them that you know the way to safety. All the while, keep checking your phone for messages through Active Defender to discern if this is a drill or a true emergency. Get messages about blocked exits, messages about children missing from classes and pick one up on the way as he exits the bathroom. Relay information to his teacher that he is in fact safe and with you.

Being the Safe Haven

Let those in charge know every step of the way that you and your students are safe, your location and your head count. Follow their directions to the safest exit near your location and evacuate to a spot that is not in danger. Then congratulate all of your kids, even the extra one on following directions and staying safe. Active Defender enables your inner safety monitor and keeps you going, even when there is chaos around you.

In the End

Once the drill is over, take a look at the forms that New Jersey teachers must complete after each Evacuation Drill. Teachers take the time to complete these forms, and then someone reads each one and notes any commonalities or glaring problems so that they can be addressed before the next drill and hopefully before any emergency occurs.

Evacuation Drill Link for forms for NJ Teachers to complete after each drill.


With Active Defender, there is no waiting, no analysis in the wee hours by someone trying to come up with percentages of teachers left in buildings, kids trapped in bathrooms. Knowledge is power and with Active Defender, you have immediate knowledge and power to produce the best possible outcome. You know before your first responders where the fire is, where the threat exists and can point them immediately in that direction, no waiting, no seconds lost. No wasting time. Active Defender makes doing the right thing that much easier. Get it today.

Contact Active Defender today: https://www.active-defender.com/contact


Active Defender

☎: 910.683.0090

495 Campbell Road, Carthage, NC 28327

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