Does your front line staff know what “you” want them to do?

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Organizational Leaders spend many hours identifying the best set of emergency response guidelines for their people. These guidelines often come from the Department of Homeland Security, other federal law enforcement agencies, professional organizations and local public safety partners.

One question I often hear from emergency planners is where they can find “written” instructions to include in their plans, procedures and training programs. While some of the best advice on how to respond is often found at the local level, getting someone at that same local level to write a “guideline” that will appear in your policies is tough. Often, the reluctance comes from the fear of being “quoted” on exactly what someone else should do in an emergency.

The Department of Homeland Security is definitely one of the better official agencies that do write and share their best practices for response to specific threats. One response guideline for active shooters that is often referenced is the “Run, Hide, Fight” plan.

DHS Run Hide Fight Active Shooter video link

DHS Run Hide Fight Active Shooter video link

While Run-Hide-Fight is certainly good advice for adults, it does have its limitations as a response plan when you involve children, the infirmed, the intellectually and physically disabled persons in your pre-plan. Discussing the strategy behind Run-Hide-Fight does make good sense as no response plan is designed to address every threat, but having a greater understanding of the solution set can certainly help people make better informed decisions during an emergency.

I recently saw the challenge in formalizing the Run-Hide-Fight response plan come into play while speaking with school bus transportation directors and drivers. Recognizing that bus drivers are the on the front line when it comes to protecting students, training them on what you want them to do in response to a serious threat like a weapon on the bus or a hostage situation is critical.

Going back to Run-Hide-Fight; is this a strategy you promote for all your staff including your bus drivers? Faced with an armed threat, should the bus driver run off with the keys? Obviously, hiding on a bus is not an option. What about fighting? If we are promoting that the driver may have to fight the attacker, should we consider letting the students know that fighting is an option? What about providing hostage training to your staff? Is that a skill set we should be sharing with our staff?

Lots of questions; How do you assess where your training needs are?

Consider holding a staff training program that involves facilitating a discussion with bus drivers regarding what they would do if their bus were boarded by a person with a weapon. Unfortunately, this scenario comes from a real world event that ending very tragically for the driver. For more on that event, click on this link:

Click on the link to view the ABC News video of bus kidnapping

Click on the link to view the ABC News video of bus kidnapping

Let’s face it; there are so many potential threats that trying to customize a response plan for each is not feasible. Start by understanding what your staff believes their responsibilities are and what their response options may include. By letting your staff share in a training discussion how they might respond to a threat, you can better understand their training needs.

Communicating, resourcing and empowering your staff at every level with strategies for survival is the backbone of a comprehensive emergency response plan. Listening in on their “current” plans during a discussion based table top exercise provides an opportunity to have confidence, or maybe address a need, in your plans while we still have time to prepare.

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