Damaged cache container removed from Oakridge Elementary groundsMar 08, 2023 11:53AM ● By Jolene Croasmun
Mt. Olympus Community Council (MOCC) members Britt McPartland and Dr. Chuck Pruitt cleaning out the damaged cache container that was removed from the Oakridge Elementary School’s playground. (Jolene Croasmun/City Journals)
Last summer, the new principal of Oakridge Elementary School, Valerie Bergera contacted Roger Brooks, Granite School District emergency manager along with Millcreek’s Emergency Manager Andrew Clark and the Mount Olympus Community Council (MOCC) about permanently removing the cache container from Oakridge’s playground.
“We started doing assessments of our school properties and looking at safety and security, and as we looked at the campus we noticed that the placement of the CERT container and the condition of it gave us some serious concerns,” Bergera said. “Trash and recycling bins had to be placed on the other end of the school’s campus causing the garbage trucks to drive across the playground to remove the trash which became a safety issue.”
“The CERT container was located very close to the playground structure which made it hard to supervise the kids when they went behind it and to keep them safe,” Bergera added.
“We are limited on playground space so we wanted to have it removed.
We have been talking about it since July with Millcreek’s Emergency Manager Andrew Clark.”
Bergera explained that there is a process to go through for that container to be on the school property called a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and it appears that the community never went through this process.
Oakridge Elementary School is part of the Granite School District and is located in the Olympus Cove neighborhood. The school is a few blocks up from Churchill Junior High School off Jupiter Drive.
The previous principal of Oakridge Elementary School did not seem to have an issue with the cache container’s location. The trailer has been situated on Oakridge’s playground since the 1990s.
Brooks, Granite School District’s emergency manager said, “The new principal wanted me to come and look at this container and then requested it to be removed.” Brooks then contacted Clark, Millcreek’s emergency manager.
Clark, along with MOCC, inspected the cache container and they found it to be in disrepair.
Clark and members of the MOCC went through the cache container last fall. The container was damaged and they decided to remove it from the school property and not replace it with a new one. Much of the medical supplies that had been contained in the container could not be salvaged. Things that were still in good condition were placed in an existing cache container located at Churchill Junior High School.
After the container was removed Bergera said, “We now have free unobstructed views to supervise the children. These safety audits are important for every principal on every campus and to look at things with a different lens then respond and be proactive. We want to continue to have collaboration and communication with the council and Millcreek City.”
“These containers provide extra resources in those times when we need them. As long as the containers are being maintained then there is value from an emergency management perspective in having these containers in the community,” Brooks said.
The idea of cache sites were put in place around the city and can be very beneficial if there is an emergency but the containers need to be checked and inventoried regularly.
The two cache containers located at Eastwood Elementary and two at Churchill Junior High School are in good condition and will remain at those schools. The one that was removed from Oakridge Elementary was the oldest of the containers. There are additional cache containers around the city.
“The cache pods serve as a branch of the training with the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). The purpose of CERT caches and the Schools Aid Families in Emergencies (SAFE) program is to enhance our response in the event of a major disaster,” Clark said.
“The caches are not meant to house food and water but are equipped with supplies that can aid in search and rescue, debris management, medical response, damage assessments and reunification of families.”
These programs are a way for the communities and residents to respond quickly while awaiting outside assistance.
In the event of a major disaster Clark said, “The cache containers would be accessible through the community council as well as the city and some CERT members.”
The upkeep of these cache containers are through the community council and the city. A quick inspection of these containers are done on a quarterly basis to check for leaks or damage. Inventory on the four remaining cache containers at Eastwood and Churchill will be conducted this spring and determine if there is a need for additional supplies.
In the wake of the devastating earthquake in Turkey and Syria, and the knowledge that the Salt Lake valley sits on many faults and is due for a major earthquake, emergency preparedness in the community is very important.
CERT training for any Millcreek resident who is interested will begin this March. “It is important to note that these cache sites will be better utilized if we can get more people trained on how to use the equipment inside,” Clark said. The CERT training teaches locals basic search and rescue techniques, first aid to stop bleeding and to deal with trauma. A link to the next CERT training in Millcreek is at www.millcreek.us.
SAFE neighborhoods program teaches individuals and families how to create a 96-hour kit. If a disaster occurs, you grab your kit and walk to the nearest SAFE school in your area. This program relies on neighbors helping neighbors and getting access to critical and immediate emergency needs along with keeping the community informed during a crisis.
For more information on a SAFE school in your community or how your family can be prepared in a disaster, visit safeutah.org.