LONG BEACH, Calif. - All schools have fire drills, but Abraham Lincoln Elementary, in the heart of an embattled neighborhood, has a "drive-by drill" - a 45-second bell that signals students to drop for cover from gunfire.
"We ring it when there's talk of (gang) problems or if a teacher hears gunfire," said Georgia Jones, Lincoln's vice principal. "It indicates to students and teachers on the playground to get down and lie flat, or if they're in the classroom, to drop beneath their desks."
The bell helps teachers at the year-round, kindergarten-to-fifth-grade school to direct the 1,100 students when communication is almost impossible, Jones said. The bell has been used twice in real-life situations when shots were fired near the school, she added.
Students practice the emergency drill at least once a semester, said school district spokesman Dick Van Der Laan.
Gang gunfire and threat of violence have struck recently at two other Long Beach schools.
On April 25 a bus full of children at Willard Elementary School was caught in the cross-fire of apparent rival gangs. One shot shattered a window; the only injury was a cut from flying glass.
On the same day at Hill Middle School, three people pointed guns at students near the school. No injuries were reported.