Create your school emergency plan by weighing the specific risks for your campus and concentrate on those items. You may not be able to address every single issue, but planning for those that are most likely to arise is a good place to start.
Put together a team of key individuals to begin discussing specific risks to your institution. Your team should include for example administrators, communications personnel, risk manager, medical staff, student leaders, and security staff. Risks this team should address can include:
- Natural Elements/Disasters
- Chemical Spills/Hazardous Materials
- Utility Emergencies
- Staff, Student, or Outside Hostility/Assault or Other Violent Crimes
- Bomb Threats
- Weapons on Campus
- Sexual Assault
- Active Shooter
- Death or Major Injury
- Civil Disturbances or Demonstrations
After a list of the specific risks is created, formulate a plan with response guidelines for each scenario. Four basic areas to include for each risk are:
- Life safety and evacuation planning: What is the evacuation route or plan for each risk? Work with local authorities to develop your evacuation plans. Each jurisdiction may have different recommendations on how to respond to certain risks.
- Communication: How will you notify students in the case of an emergency? How will you communicate the emergency plan with parents and local authorities? If the local press makes an appearance, who will communicate with them? A solid communication plan can prevent false information from being spread.
- External support: How can you best partner with local emergency personnel? Partnering with local emergency departments, including police and fire, gives them the opportunity to become familiar with your campus and your plan. Local emergency personnel will often provide free training which enhances and strengthens your emergency plans.
- Continuity of operations: The safety and continuity of the school and its students should be a priority. Where and how will classes or school operations continue if your facilities are not fit for use? Do you have a backup system in place if your IT databases are compromised?
Identifying Your Assets & ExposuresBy identifying your assets, you can better determine your exposures. Are your IT systems an asset? Are they in the basement, and is there a flood risk there? What are your processes for dealing with those types of exposures, such as computer damages? What are your cyber risks? Will your student records be compromised? Is there another way to access that information? What about your library or library books? What happens if your maintenance manager is off campus and the utilities need to be shut off? Do others know where these are located and how to shut off the utilities? These are just a few items to consider and help you begin to create your list.
5 Steps to Plan for Emergencies in Educational FacilitiesAs you begin the process of emergency planning in your educational facilities, simply follow these five steps:
- Create your emergency/crisis team.
- Identify the risks for your institution.
- List your assets and exposures.
- Partner with your local authorities in the planning process.
- Plan for each specific type of emergency.
Sometimes it takes a loss to bring awareness and meaning to these issues. But we can learn from other institutions that have faced challenges. Communicate with your associates in dealing with some of those challenges.
Don’t forget: you can use the resources on ARM’s Emergency Planning page to get started.