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2024 Regional Lahar Drill Recap and Photos

a Meeker Elementary student and staff participating in the Lahar Drill.

This morning, March 21, the Puyallup School District took part in a regional lahar evacuation drill, marking the fourth time in history that the district has participated in such an exercise (2014, 2019, 2022, and today 2024).

What is the Purpose of the Drill?

This drill aimed to enhance emergency preparedness and collaboration among emergency responders, ensuring the safety and well-being of students and staff in the unlikely event of a lahar evacuation.

The primary goals of the exercise were to raise awareness among staff and students about responding to a lahar emergency and to practice radio communication between district staff and EOC communications personnel. The Puyallup River valley could potentially be affected by lahars, making it essential for residents to be prepared.

How Many Puyallup Valley Students and Staff Participated in the Drill?

An estimated 8,000 staff and students from 10 Puyallup Valley schools actively participated in the evacuation drill, while the remaining schools on the hill practiced 'sheltering-in-place' procedures. Schools that sheltered in place ensured that all students were inside and secure during the drill times, while school administrators practiced internal communications with the district's emergency operations center.

Throughout the week leading up to the drill, USGS scientists visited multiple schools, providing classroom lessons and assemblies tailored to each school's needs. This enhanced our students' understanding of the geological events that could lead to a lahar and the importance of preparedness.

What Kind of Emergency Responses Does PSD Prepare For?

The district maintains an emergency drill calendar that covers four basic functional response drills:

  • Shelter-in-place
  • Lockdown
  • Evacuation
  • Earthquake

We regularly collaborate with emergency management agencies to review response plans and facilitate emergency preparedness exercises to meet our school community's evolving needs.

Although the district did not activate its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) for this exercise, district representatives were part of the 'unified command' at the City of Puyallup's EOC. In past years, district officials have simulated EOC situations to practice emergency response scenarios, further enhancing our readiness.

2024 Regional Lahar Drill Photos

How Can Families Prepare for Emergencies?

To encourage preparedness, we urge families to: 

  1. Create an emergency plan
  2. Prepare an emergency kit
  3. Sign up for alerts

Residents can register for alerts through Puyallup Alerts on the City's website or PC Alerts through Pierce County.

The Puyallup School District remains committed to the safety and well-being of our students, staff, and community.

Our ongoing participation in regional emergency preparedness exercises, such as the lahar evacuation drill, demonstrates our dedication to being ready for any situation that may arise.