The False Alarms Continue: Shelter in Place Alarm Mistakenly Triggered

By Kayli Harley, Staff Writer

// Acalanes students and teachers are accustomed to false fire alarms blaring at random on campus, but when a monotone voice came over the loudspeaker on Monday during Academy instructing them to shelter in place—implying an intruder or threat on-campus—students and teachers had varying reactions.

   At first, some of the students who heard the alarm hesitated to comply with the announcement’s orders, but when their teachers ordered them to treat it seriously, they quickly responded. 

   “I thought it wasn’t real, but then we saw it on the clock, so we were like ‘oh wait, this might actually be a real thing.’ So, then we started closing the blinds and locking the door. I felt panicked,” Acalanes sophomore Gianna Manzone said. 

   Acalanes drama teacher, Ed Meehan, was working with students at the time the false alarm occurred. 

   “It was disorienting,” Meehan said. “I started pulling everybody in and making sure [the students came inside], and then right after that, they started doing announcements, and I was confused. We didn’t really have an opportunity to get too worked up about it because it was pretty quickly called a false alarm.”  

      Some students and teachers, on the other hand, did not hear the alarm. Acalanes senior, Rebecca Starr, did not hear it because she was outside, and the system only works inside the classrooms.  

   According to Acalanes senior Hannah Johnson, students in Christopher Busse’s room did not hear the alarm either. 

   “It either didn’t play on the speakers in Mr. Busse’s room, or it was too loud to hear in the room,” Johnson said. 

   Acalanes Principal, Travis Bell, stated the alarm did not result from a technical malfunction, nor as a response to a threat, but instead accidentally.  

   “The way the alarm system works is it’s a button on our phone intercom system, you hit a button to go into the system, and then you have to select what you want to do,” Bell said. “Ms. Larson said her finger slipped, and she hit the shelter in place instead of the all call button.”

   Despite their initial confusion, teachers continued to follow protocol. Manzone recounted that her teacher mentioned that no one told her about a drill, and consequently handled the situation with the possibility of there truly being a threat. 

   Meehan expressed how he relied on the instructions from the loudspeaker to dictate his next steps. 

   “If it’s coming over the loudspeaker, that’s what I do. I didn’t automatically assume it was a false alarm because the protocol is to wait to hear over the loudspeaker, and sure enough, we heard it,” Meehan said.

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