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1 Communicating in a Crisis on 15th May 2011, 2:23 pm

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Communicating in a Crisis

Overview
Valley High School, situated in Kodaikanal, was established in 1980 and is owned by a well respected charitable trust. It overlooks a lake and is a modern building equipped with state-of- the-art facilities. The total student enrolment is 2000, out of which more than 50% are girls and the rest boys. The students are all from affluent, educated families. The school has established a good reputation for itself, thanks to the consistently good performance of students in the public examinations.
The school is headed by a lady Principal and also has a couple of Supervisors and a team of 25 teachers. The teachers have had extensive experience, are well qualified and are known for their commitment to imparting quality education to students. Due to the recent heavy monsoons, the school was faced with the problem of flooding, with water entering the rooms on the ground floor and water seepage on the terrace.Since repair work had to be done, the school had to be closed for a couple of weeks. The work was carried out by reputed contractors, but the building still looks a little run down.

The crisis
The school had just reopened after this two week break. The same morning, a fire suddenly broke out on the third floor and spread to other floors, blocking the stairways. There was widespread panic, as the children started jumping off the balconies, injuring themselves in the process.The Principal and staff had a tough time trying to calm down the children and take control of the situation. Fire engines were called and several of them arrived and began their fire fighting operations. In the meanwhile, many parents also arrived and tried to enter the building to speak to the Principal. The phones were ringing continuously. There was total chaos.


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