School Drills: An Introduction

Sabrina Lo, Staff Writer

Since the 1900s, emergency drills have been implemented in elementary, middle, and high schools. From fire, lockdown, earthquake drills, students have been trained to learn what series of instructions to go through from a simple ringing bell. Though this may seem unnecessary or nonessential as students believe the odds of having a lockdown are low, these drills are in fact very important.

Emergency drills were applied to schools to help them prepare for a worst-case scenario. 

Fire drills were regularly held in the school, including one within the first two months of 1908,” according to Carl Prinzler was the man who ‘invented’ fire drills after the 1903 Iroquois Theatre Fire in Chicago. This fire resulted in more than 600 deaths and countless injuries. Since then, fire drills have taken place at least once every year. Arcadia Unified School District’s website states the following:


  • Nearly 20 earthquake drills take place across the District each year
  • Collectively and annually, our students and staff participate in more than 85 fire drills.
  • Our school sites engage in approximately 20 lockdown drills each school year.


So besides the obvious of preventing disaster, why else are these drills important? Though lockdowns may seem rare and infrequent, according to, they are heavily required. In 2015, there were 66 incidents of gunfire; leading to 21 deaths and 47 injuries. In 2019, that number rose to 130 with 32 deaths and 77 injuries. Although in times of COVID, an astounding 82 incidents of gunfire on school grounds have been reported in 2021, taking away 21 lives and impacting an additional 56. Without drills, these numbers could be much higher.


Photographic Courtesy of FLICKR.COM