SUPPLEMENTAL EMERGENCY KITS
- By Michael Dorn
- April 1st, 2004
Last month, we examined the concept of the emergency evacuation kit for schools. We shall now look at other types of emergency kits that can enhance the ability of school personnel to respond to a variety of crisis situations. Like the emergency evacuation kit, these kits each have a specialized function. Of course, as with any emergency preparedness measure, the design and use of any emergency kits should be customized to meet the risks, needs and resources of your situation. This is one reason that customized kits are sometimes a better solution than commercially available kits.
The community risk assessment may dictate what supplies and materials are appropriate for emergency kits in your schools. For example, regions that are at high risk for major earthquake activity would be well advised to consider not only supplies, but rescue tools and equipment for their disaster kits. Unfortunately, in a major event like an earthquake, available rescue personnel may not be adequate to respond to every location where they are needed. Through mutual aid agreements, outside rescue personnel will arrive, but often after significant time has lapsed. If you have not already done so, be sure to ask your local emergency management agency for assistance in determining the need for this advanced type of preparedness. Schools located in remote rural communities may also have unique capabilities because of the limited emergency response capabilities of their communities and the length of travel time for response personnel from other communities.
The following are a few examples of emergency kits that are in use in schools around the country.
First Aid Kits
Among the most common emergency kits, first aid kits should be purchased or assembled with guidance from local emergency medical services personnel, such as local paramedics, fire/rescue personnel or emergency medical technicians. An excellent resource in determining needs (as well as for training of personnel) is your local chapter of the American Red Cross. Ask whether it would be best to purchase stock first aid kits or to assemble your own kits through bulk purchase of containers and individual supplies.
Typically, the best choice here will be commercially available kits that are designed to minimize dangers associated with cleaning up bodily fluids, such as blood. While these kits are typically thought of for daily situations, such as cleanup by custodial staff, more supplies may be needed for certain emergency and disaster situations. Crisis team members, school resource officers and school bus drivers should also have access to spill kits.
Typically the largest of the emergency kits, disaster kits contain emergency supplies like blankets, water, rescue tools and rescue equipment. A variety of kits have been used, and some districts separate disaster supplies and rescue tool kits into two distinct types of kits.
Emergency Medicines Kit
In reviewing the Thurston High School shooting incident in Springfield, Ore., school crisis response and recovery expert Marleen Wong points out that school officials faced challenges when school personnel could not enter the main office area to retrieve emergency medicines that were needed by students. The police had secured the school as a crime scene and would not allow school personnel to retrieve medications that were needed during the extended evacuation period. This type of situation can also occur during bomb threat evacuations, fires, gas leaks and other situations. A portable kit containing emergency medications and appropriate student medical records is one means to address this type of situation. These kits often contain epi-pens, inhalers for students with asthma and other emergency medications. Careful coordination between school officials, parents and student’s physicians may be required to ensure that extra medications are prescribed for storage in the kit. Another and simpler solution is to store all student medications in a secure but portable box.
Classroom Emergency Kits
In many schools, each teacher has a classroom emergency kit. Often a backpack or carry bag, the kit contains supplies and materials to help the teacher support their students during an extended evacuation. Compact disposable raincoats, tissue paper, story books or age-appropriate learning activities and other simple supplies can make an extended evacuation more tolerable for students and for the teacher.
Bus Emergency Evacuation Kit
School buses can be affected by a variety of situations, including the need to evacuate a bus. While bus drivers are often supplied with first aid and spill kits, an emergency evacuation kit (which can be used to store these kits as well) can be very beneficial.
By thinking of the supplies, materials and information that could be useful to school personnel during crisis situations, a variety of emergency kits can be developed to better prepare your schools to face difficult situations.
Michael Dorn serves as the executive director for Safe Havens International, Inc., an IRS-approved, nonprofit safety center. He has authored and co-authored more than 20 books on campus safety. He can be reached through the Safe Havens website at www.safehavensinternational.org.