Evacuation becomes a catalyst for learning at Queanbeyan service

Evacuation becomes a catalyst for learning at Queanbeyan service
Evacuation becomes a catalyst for learning at Queanbeyan service

For centre manager Stephanie Selmes, a gas leak at a petrol station close to the service has become a provocation for learning and exploration as the children continue to reflect on the role they play in keeping one another safe in emergency situations.

Kin Early Learning Centre, headed up by Ms Selmes, has always had a strong awareness of the need to prepare for emergencies. When the service opened in 2020, Ms Selmes used the experience of being involved in bushfire evacuations at her previous centre to reinforce the importance of establishing an effective emergency management plan. She could never have expected how quickly the emergency action plan would need to be enacted in her own service.

In early 2021, all of Kin Early Learnings emergency action plans, practices and drills needed to be put into action in response to a real-life emergency. There had been a gas leak at a petrol station across the road from the service. The team worked alongside emergency services to enact their emergency action plan.

All children and educators were kept safe during the event. After the event, the educators at the service reflected on what had occurred noting that “without all of our planning and practice, implementing an emergency management plan could have been very different and not as successful.”

Prepare, plan, reflect

When setting up Kin Early Learning, Ms Selmes emphasised the importance of conducting numerous drills in the first few months to ensure there was enough time to reflect, prepare and plan prior to the service opening. Once operating, the service continued to complete drills on a regular basis, and after any drill or real-life event the team would reflect on what worked, what didn’t work and what they needed to change or adjust.

Roles and responsibilities, clear communication

Having clearly defined roles and responsibilities and ensuring the entire team had a clear understanding of what needed to be achieved, to avoid any confusion in the case of an emergency has been a critical part of the smooth enactment of the emergency action plans of the service. 

Communicating the emergency action plan to the children is also a core part of the success of the emergency planning at Kin. 

“Communication is key for children’s understanding of how important it is for us as educators to help keep them safe and the role that they play each day in assisting,” Ms Selmes said. 

“This communication also enabled the children to feel more in control of an emergency and be able to be part of the decision making.”

Kin Early Learning has incorporated emergency planning into its curriculum, ensuring times for discussion about emergencies, creating activities for children to map out the service’s floor plan and organising visits to the local fire station.

Key learning

When reflecting on the gas leak emergency, Ms Selmes highlighted her key learnings from the experience:

  • Communication is key
  • Ensure everyone understands their roles and responsibilities
  • Preparation is so important
  • Ensure that families know where to find you if you are evacuated
  • Ensure that emergency bags and plans are ready to be used – during bushfire season checking batteries on radios and torches daily
  • Remember in the event of a fire mobile phones and internet may not work
  • If you evacuate, leave details on the front door, including time and date, where you are relocating to, and note that the building is empty, this informs emergency services you have left the building and where they can find you.

Learn more about Kin Early Learning here. For information on evacuation and emergency situations in ECEC, please see here

Source: thesector.com.au

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *