How to Develop an Emergency Preparedness Protocol for Your School
While parents are prepping for back-to-school sticker shock and students are worried about what they'll wear and if all their friends will be back, school administrators are focused on how they'll keep students and faculty safe and secure this school year.
Meteorologists tell us to be prepared for El Nino, geologists warn we're overdue for earthquakes, and criminologists say that no school is 100 percent safe from rampages like we've witnessed at Sandy Hook, Muskegon Heights High School, Umpqua Community College, and tragically, so many others.
The list of emergencies to prepare for is long, indeed. Let's see what goes into a smart school security alarm system and emergency preparedness protocol.
Be Sure All Stakeholders are Consulted
If only administrators and educators are involved in drafting and implementing the emergency plans, it will be one-sided and imbalanced. Other key stakeholders like the parents, local first responders, and even the student body will have insight and perspective that make your preparedness plan better. Without input from those stakeholders, you could end up with a plan that's confusing or doesn't account for the needs of those involved.
Be Specific About the Emergency Situations You're Preparing For
A preparedness plan should list and define specific events that are covered, and have a particular plan to address those situations. Prioritize the emergencies according to the chances of that event happening, as well as the potential impact if it does happen. For example, there is a reasonable probability that a student will have an allergic reaction to something served in the lunchroom, but that would be a relatively low-impact event, so long as response was timely and sufficient.
Conversely, there's a very low possibility that the campus will be hit by an F-4 tornado, but if it were to happen, the impact would be severe. Make sure you have plans for any eventuality, even if the probability is quite low.
Establish a Protocol for Contacting & Communicating with Officials
In most cases, you will retain power and working phone lines during an emergency. But you have to plan for the loss of both, and the potential for local cell towers to be out or jammed. Cell towers are designed to accommodate normal traffic in a given area, and become jammed quickly when an emergency happens. That's even more true in a school, where parents are trying to reach students and students are all tweeting and posting to Facebook. Every school security alarm system needs to operate independently of power, telephone, and a cellular system that can too easily get knocked out or rendered useless.
Make Sure Everyone Has & Knows Their Roles & Responsibilities
In an emergency, people won't remember steps 1, 2, and 3 for each emergency you've planned and trained for. What they will remember is their own roles and responsibilities. Designate each person a role to fulfill in the event of an emergency. People can remember, "I'm in charge of taking roll in the parking lot," or, "I'm supposed to check classrooms 212-225 for stragglers," better than they can remember to take specific steps according to the specific emergency that's unfolding.
Train Regularly on Your Emergency Plan & School Security Alarm System
There are two basic responses to an emergency: evacuation or sheltering in place. The type of situation dictates the best response. In a fire, evacuation is essential. During an earthquake, it's almost always safer to shelter in place. Students, faculty, and staff should know when to do what, based on some predetermined and well-practiced signal. For example, you can program your school security alarm system to play a different signal according to what people should do in response to any given emergency. Practice your exit routes until those are familiar, and make sure the signal to stay in place is well-recognized across campus.
Are you ready for the school security alarm system that will support your emergency preparedness protocol? Request a quote now.