Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Minnesota School Gives Teen Frostbite Because Rules Must Be Followed.

Kayona Hagan-Tietz, 14,  was the last one in her class still in the swimming pool Monday when the fire alarm went off at Como Park High School in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Kayona Hagan-Tietz said her Minnesota
High School made her stand outside in subzero
cold in a wet bathing suit because rules
state she couldn't go to a warm place
during a fire alarm.  

Her clothes were way off the locker room, so she was forced to run out of the school barefoot and in a wet swimsuit while the temperatures was 5 below and the wind chill was 25 below.

No problem. Just stash the girl in a warm car or nearby building until everybody determined things were safe and life would go on, right?

Oh no. School rules MUST be followed.

According to television station WCCO in Minneapolis, Kayona was forced to stand outside barefoot in her wet bathing suit because of the rules. 

The rule is students can't get into cars belonging to teachers. Under normal circumstances, the rule is extremely sensible. You don't want to create a situation where a rare predatory teacher gets a student into his or her car and does something untoward.

But there were no nearby buildings and no students had their car keys. Couldn't they just make an exception and allow the kid into a teacher's warm car, and send in another teacher or administrator to monitor the situation?

Uh-uh. Rules are rules. Kayona's friends tried to help by forming a tight circle around her and wrapping her feet in a towel, but really, there's only so much you can do when it's 5 below with a 25 below wind chill factor.

Eventually, somebody with a lick of sense came along and allowed Kayona to get into a teacher's car. Another teacher also loaned her a jacket.

But that was after a good long ten minutes out in that weather. Subzero cold can give you frostbite or hypothermia almost instantly.

After school, Kayona's mother took her to the doctor, where she was treated for frostbitten feet.

Here's what Kayona's mother, Eva Tietz said about the situation, according to WCCO:

"If I had a fire and brought my children out in that condition, you know, I'm sure I would be charged in some way or another if I didn't instantly bring them into a neighbor's house or someplace else......The ultimate goal is to keep them safe and protect your children, and, in this instance, they did a really poor job."

She's right on that score. In a statement, the school said it is reviewing its policies on cold weather evacuations. Geez, what's to review? Get the kid out of danger and into a warm place. How difficult is that?

The St. Paul City Fire Marshall, Steve Zaccard,  agreed, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press:

"With the benefit of hindsight, it doesn't make any sense to evacuate kids who are soaking wet from a swimming pool into these temperatures when there's no evidence of smoke or fire in that part of the building....That could be dangerous."

The fire turned out to be a false alarm. A bit of smoke from an errant science experiment touched off the alarms, investigators said.

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