Designing a plan is only the beginning when it comes to actually developing a safety team. The Interboro School District in Southeast Pennsylvania understand this and has been working with me over the last few months to review and update their school safety plans with the goal of developing effective school-based safety teams.
Now, after meeting over the summer with senior administrators and principals to set the goals and objectives of the safety program, we have taken the next steps by working with individual school teams to identify who will serve on the team and what their roles will be.
My approach to developing a safety team for a school or organization is collaborative. A safety program needs to be able to address all types of hazards, utilize a management system that is scalable to the event and above all, empower people to take action. The program also needs to have been critical reviewed by the people who work in the buildings and who have experience with the people they serve, understand the organization’s culture and recognizes their own capabilities. This can only be done through collaboration, dialog and at times debate, between designers and practitioners.
Last month, each school in the Interboro District received an introductory briefing on the safety program. This presentation was geared to soliciting willing participants to be on the team and to let the whole staff know where we are going and what roles they will play.
Now, the individual safety teams are receiving training on the All-Hazards emergency management system that will be used for evacuations and shelter in place events. This 90 minute discussion based training includes a table top exercise that brings the management concepts into practical experience.
Future training will include more complex table top exercises with the team and then a full briefing for the school. Using this model, a school or business can work out the logistical challenges openly and let the people who best know their campus craft a plan that fits their needs.
As always, practicing your plan is critical to the success of your emergency management program. Utilizing an experienced facilitator will allow those who best know your people and facility the opportunity to create a program to meet your specific safety needs.