Brewer presented buckets to the staff and faculty at Helen M. Knight (HMK) on March 24.
“If you’re locked down in your classroom ... what are you going to do with the kids? You might have to sustain them for two, three hours,” Brewer said. “Where are they going to go to the bathroom?”
Brewer gnawed over those questions when he served as the school resource officer for the Grand County School District. In that role, Brewer often helped conduct lockdown drills and active shooter trainings, and questioned what students would do with no access to food, water, or the bathroom during a real emergency.
“I’m thinking, ‘what are we going to do if these kids get locked down for two to three hours at a time?’” he said.
A Christmas present from his son — a bucket filled with emergency supplies for the home — inspired Brewer’s “emergency lockdown bucket” idea.
“I thought, ‘that’s a good idea for the classroom,’” Brewer said.
It’s taken two years to fill the roughly 180 buckets with materials and supplies needed for all classrooms in the district — from HMK, Grand County Middle School, Grand County High School, to the Moab Charter School and Sundwall Pre-School.
“Any second [Brewer] gets he’s working on [this project],” said Grand County School District Superintendent Scott Crane. “It’s taken a lot of work, and a lot of support.”
Each bucket is filled with the main essentials that students might need in the case of a lockdown, including first aid supplies, water bottles, energy bars, and a tarp.
But the bucket also serves a distinctly practical function — as a toilet. The kit includes liners for inside the bucket, as well as a padded seat for students to sit on, and a tarp that can be used — district officials say — as a curtain “to offer the students some semblance of privacy.”
Brewer said emergency lockdowns could be triggered by a variety of situations — an outdoor gas leak, natural disaster, or an active shooter or fugitive in the area. These buckets could offer some comfort during that time, he said.
“We’re just trying to make sure that the students are as comfortable as possible, even in an uncomfortable situation,” Brewer said.
Grand County Middle School principal Melinda Snow said the emergency lockdown buckets are designed to create “a bit of peace of mind” in a crisis scenario.
“I know that schools all over the world are putting similar bucket-containers in place,” Snow said. “I have great respect for Curt Brewer's insightfulness and willingness to organize this project that may serve our entire school population at one time or another.”
Brewer said he has received tremendous support from individuals and businesses in the community, noting that many people pitched in to help fill the buckets. According to the school district, Brewer has received financial donations ranging from $30 to $500.
“Every business that I’ve talked to has been very supportive,” Brewer said. “I’ve had private citizens write me a check out also.”
While some donated financially, others provided in-kind goods. Walker True Value donated all the buckets, and City Market donated all the water.
“What keeps this store going is our community, so we’re going to invest in that,” said City Market manager Brendon Cameron. “I thought this was a great way to invest in the youth of our community ... it’s for a good cause.”
Buckets are each equipped with medical supplies, too, from simple first aid items to more heavy-duty supplies like gauze and tourniquets designed to help stop heavy bleeding.
“We just donated as many supplies as we could. We feel it’s an important cause,” said Andy Smith, Grand County Emergency Medical Services Director. “If anything were to happen each classroom could be self-sufficient. We felt like that was something needed in the community.”
It’s the support and the donations, Brewer said, that have made this project a reality.
“It’s taken a lot of time, and a lot of money, but I really appreciate all the support,” he said. “This isn’t for me. It’s for the kids in our schools to try and make them a little more comfortable.”
Brewer no longer works as an official school resource officer, as the Grand County Sheriff’s Department experiences low staff numbers. However, Brewer said he, and others, look out for the school district as often they can.
“We try to still stay as active as we can with the schools,” Brewer said, noting that law enforcement officers teach DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education), regularly conduct safety assemblies, and often eat lunch with the kids.
According to Grand County Sheriff Steve White, staying involved in the school district is a top priority for the department.
“From our perspective, the more the kids know us, the more the kids are around us, the better the situation is going to be if it ever does come to a crisis mode,” White said.
Taking care of the schools equates to taking care of the community, he added.
“We live here, our kids go to school here, our grandkids go to school here — it’s us,” White said. “It’s our community.”
Brewer has assembled 100 of the approximately 180 buckets he hopes to make available in every classroom. For those interested in making additional donations for the Emergency Lockdown Bucket project, contact Brewer at the Grand County Sheriff’s Department at 435-259-8115.