Hot Tips (Emergency Preparation)

Preparing for Emergencies

Performing drills disrupts the flow of an already-full school day. Without adding more time to the drill, how can schools ensure they are getting the most value from these activities?

Teach staff to initiate the drill. The principal typically announces a drill. But the person most likely to encounter an emergency, like a strange odor or a student with a knife, is actually a staff member. Teaching staff to initiate drills gives them the means and responsibility to help keep students safe.

Use scenarios to put the drill in context. When a real emergency hits, emotion and adrenaline will significantly affect how successfully everyone responds. Scenarios put drills in context and incorporate a level of emotion and adrenaline. For example, the principal hands a 6th grade math teacher the following scenario printed on an index card, “You’re in the middle of teaching a class when you and several students notice smoke and flames coming through the ceiling tiles just over your head. Go!” Now, it’s up to the teacher to respond and alert the building.

Assess the fidelity of your safety plan. In addition to preparing for various emergencies, drills tell you if your safety plan works. We’ve all encountered situations where what looks good on paper doesn’t hold up in a real scenario. Documenting lessons and modifying your safety plan is critical to ensuring a safe learning environment.

Putting drills in context and empowering staff to initiate them improves staff engagement, better preparing everyone to respond effectively during a drill or emergency. It ensures the right safety plan is in place, which is valuable.

This article originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Thom Jones is the general manager of NaviGate Prepared. He can be reached at 740/963-3141.

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