Day 58 (of 185) Emergency Procedures Guide & Thinkings 

Day 58 (of 185) Emergency Procedures Guide & Thinkings 

What is the worst case scenario at a school? I’ve had to deal with the sudden deaths of student and parents and staff. Sadly, it is important for educational leaders (specifically the Principals and Vice Principals) at schools to always have a “worst case risk” plan in the back of our minds…especially when that leader is ‘away at a meeting’. 

Over years the “rules to follow” (aka Emergency Procedures) have evolved onto a flipchart, a binder of specifics and most recently an App…..which makes sense since the flipchart and binder are GREAT….if you are in your office…..

Start with All-Hazard Emergency Procedure 

“6 pieces of lego” that can be used in multiple ways/connections:

1. Evacuation

2. Room Clear

3. Hold and Secure

4. Shelter in Place

5. Lockdown

6. Drop-Cover-Hold

Emergency Risk Assessment…..
– most challenging and critical step in emergency response

– occurs fast

Risk Assessment gives you permission and confidence to act

Most people:

– don’t want to ‘overreact’ or ‘be seen to overreact’

– tend to underestimate the true risk

– want to see the whole picture before taking action

—> creates delays

Response (in book) cannot universally be “call director/superintendent”

– use whatever “credible” info is available (comes in many forms)

– Quickly assess the risk – .2 seconds to 2 minutes


ROOM CLEAR: moderation risk; hazard or emergency in one room, it is manageable by staff, and clearing the room will keep occupants safe. High Risk or emergency that may NOT be manageable by staff, but clearing the room will keep occupants safe.

HOLD AND SECURE: low-moderate risk; a hazard in the vicinity of the school is unlikely to impact school occupants, but securing people indoors ill keep them safe. High Risk is a hazard in the vicinity of the school that MAY impact school occupants and securing people indoors is the best way to keep them secure.
when “closing school” in lockdowns style – have sign in multiple languages (especially of learning community)

“nobody in/nobody out” <— once doors are closed, they stay closed <— always good to know how many (and where) outside doors that need to be locked are

in short: HOLD everyone in side and SECURE the school perimeter

– communicated via a PA

– all exterior doors and windows locked

no one in or out of the school

– continue normal activities inside (99% of the time)
who controls the front door? “principal”

Immediate Action by Staff:

– close and lock any exterior doors

– close exterior windows and blinds

– tumble locks to the locked position (if not already done_

– do NOT release students outside or go outside
– unless advised otherwise by the P/VP

    – maintain normal routines
What if….

– outodoors – gather staff and students in your vicinity and move into main school

– in a portable – in most instances bring all staff and students from your portable into the main school

– follow the directions of P/VP

EVACUATION: safer outside than inside
High Risk: hazard is contained within the school – onsite evacuation (full or partial)

High Risk: hazard within the school may also impact the school grounds. – offsite evacuation

High Risk: high-ground evacuation – coastal/river water hazard may impact the school or grounds

LOCKDOWN: imminent threat
High/Immediate Risk: potentially life-threatening violence is occurring or threatened WITHIN the school (or imminently arriving at the school)

In Short: Create separation between you and an immediate threat of violence – primarily via a locked barrier.
– lockdown will be announced by ANY means available

– if announced by the office, ideally:

    – school bells will be rung 3-4 times in rapid succession followed by a PA announcement

– why bells? Bells can be heard outside, in noisy areas and areas with no PA…they solve many issues and are available to us

A lockdown alert can be initiated by any staff member who: witnesses life-threatening violence with weapons inside the school

– analogy: like pulling a fire alarm when you see a fire. Lockdown when you see an armed assailant

– communicate to other school occupants by any means safely available to you

– ideally advise the main office so a lockdown can be announced school-wide

alert school occupants or Office BEFORE calling 911

Train how to use CellPhones safely – have phones on floor (not confiscated)….2 at a time to text parents to say safe….Tools vs Toys – use them for good during an emergency; too often rumours can make a situation worse….partners can ‘drop a net’ to nullify cell traffic, geo-cache conversations etc…

Staff and older students must understand their options: “Lockdown (or leave safe)” – not ‘or’ right away, but: LOCKDOWN in a secured area with locked barrier (primary option) LEAVE SAFE if no secure is immediately available and a safe exit is.

 The more we learn through other/ongoing tragic events the more we should be changing and adjusting our plans. If it is safest to leave….leave… do you deal with glass walls….
Q. does “leave safe” impact “lockdown”? Yes it can…but it’s about “best safe option” <— lockdown best option, but not always ‘only’ option.

Low-Moderate risk when environmental hazard exists outdoors but is unlikely to harm occupants inside. Remaining indoors is the best way to stay safe.

High-Risk: an environmental hazard exits outdoors and may harm occupants. Rmeainign indoors is best way to stay safe.

(storm, animals, dangerous spill, etc)

“time for end of day” does not exist – stay safe until danger has been controlled.

Hold and Secure: Dangerous outside, safe inside

Earthquake, explosion or other event causing violent shaking and/or materials to fall/fly.

What to do……depends on your situational awareness. If a fire alarm goes off and we are in a conference room with two doors to outside (and there have been chronic fire alarm issues) should be different than hearing a “BOOM” and fire alarm starts to ring.

Risk Assessment comes before “I’d just dial 911” (and when you do call, only share facts that you know first-hand)

Comes back to a key question raised by our BCPVPA legal team: What were you thinking? <— not in a negative way, not in a right vs wrong way, but what assessments did you do that led to the actions you took. ie Tuesday at 10AM a minivan crashes into a classroom. Numerous serious injuries, likely some fatalities.

Many ways to handle a situation like this…might even lead to a fire alarm being rung in order to evacuate the school <— but may not be pulled and a “directed evacuation” (not to the south side) may be used as well. Both (and others) may be right. 

Don’t be afraid to delegate

PVPs = Incident Commander

– Available

– Possess authority

– And have “Situational Awareness”
In short, like every day at school….. PVPs are in charge

– join the Unified Command Posts of police, fire, etc

– District staff, senior management, trustees, support PVPs

Key concept: EOC and Incident Commanders need 7 points of report MAXIMUM

Beyond 7 leads to inefficiencies and errors (chaos) school friendly = 5

? How do you identify the Incident Commander? Lanyard(s) with title on one side and reminder/list/jobs on the back

– Incident Commander

– Rapid damage assessment

– First Aid

– Etc

Sometimes chaos can be made ‘easier’ when everyone knows their roles/tasks. 

Have conversations around staff responsibilities 

– all staff to remain on scene to ensure the safety of students until otherwise directed

– in loco parentis – the board and employees are entrusted with the responsibility for the safety and care of students until a parent or previously designated alternate comes to collect then

– as need lessens, staff may be released from duties

Where will tasks take place? Have you rethought what you need to think about? Where do you put:

  • Incident command
  • Communication
  • First aid
  • Fatality care
  • Shelters and care giving
  • Student release
  • Sanitation
  • Food services
  • Volunteers

All the roles need to happen. All the jobs need to take place. One person can’t do everything. But WE can all be prepared – literally as well as figuratively – for if/when crisis occurs. 

Bonus Notes:

YOUR personal Preparedness

  1. Your family emergency plan is in place
  2. Cell phone charged at start of each day & charger
  3. Gas tank never below 1/2
  4. Runners or comfy shoes in office/car
  5. Essential drugs/paperwork for meds

Kits/Supplies – anything is better than nothing (old backpack with socks, TP, can opener, candles, etc) lists everywhere on line. 
Family plan – just make one! Where to meet…

About technolandy

Principaling on the Pacific in Powell River BC Pushing 'technologization' in education: blending technology and curriculum seamlessly. Advocate for better understanding of Anxiety in Education (and use of self-regulation) Utilizing ePortfolios & Descriptive Feedback to personalize learning!
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