As many as 34,000 students and workers in the Moore school district soon will have access to helmets for protection during severe weather.
Moore Helmets for Schools, a group of volunteers headed by the mother of a Briarwood Elementary School student who survived the deadly May 20 tornado, has raised $250,000 to pay for skating helmets and storage bins.
Group members are set to deliver helmets and bins to four schools — Briarwood and Plaza Towers elementary schools and Highland East and Central junior high schools — beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.
The tornado demolished Briarwood and Plaza Towers and killed seven Plaza Towers third-graders.
Moore Superintendent Robert Romines said the helmets will provide “one more layer of protection for our students and faculty as we continue to move forward.”
The effort to outfit “every human being” at every school in the district with a helmet was organized by Jennifer Brumley, a parent whose second-grader was pulled injury-free from the Briarwood rubble.
She credits teachers with saving the lives of her son and other Briarwood students, whose school was demolished by the EF5 tornado.
Her son, she said, had nothing but a dictionary to cover his head.
“We are determined to give them better resources to protect students and themselves,” Brumley said Wednesday. “(Teachers) had to choose between covering their own heads and covering the heads of the students, and they chose the students.”
The deliveries are scheduled to continue in the coming weeks, she said.
Skating helmets are thought to offer the most protection because they cover the top and the back of the head, according to Dr. Robert Letton, an Oklahoma City surgeon who consulted with the volunteer group.
“I think something as simple as a bicycle helmet can potentially save a life because the majority of deaths in a tornado are from head injuries,” Letton said Wednesday.
“I think it’s probably the most cost-effective way to do something to try to protect students.”
The helmets, which cost less than $7 apiece, are being paid for by private and public donations, including more than $100,000 each from the United Way and the American Red Cross, Brumley said.
“This is a very small thank you for the incredible thing those teachers did for my son that day,” she said.
“Helmets are cheap. I would love to see this implemented at every school in Tornado Alley.”