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School Emergency Management: An Overview. Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center Office of Safe and Healthy Students (OSHS) Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE) U.S. Department of Education (ED).

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School emergency management an overview

School Emergency Management: An Overview

Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center

Office of Safe and Healthy Students (OSHS)

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education (OESE)

U.S. Department of Education (ED)

Section 1 introduction school emergency management overview
Section 1: IntroductionSchool Emergency Management Overview

Four phases of school emergency management
Four Phases of SchoolEmergency Management

School emergency management plan
School Emergency Management Plan

A school emergency management plan

Is the first step to securing our schools;

Addresses a wide range of events (e.g., natural, man-made) that can disrupt teaching and learning; and

Addresses events that occur in and outside of the school day.

Key elements of school emergency management plans
Key Elements of School Emergency Management Plans

  • Framed by the four phases

  • Uses an all-hazards approach

  • Tailored to the unique school

  • Developed with community partners

  • Incorporates the Incident Command System (ICS)

  • Communicated as appropriate

  • Practiced consistently

  • Continually reviewed and revised

Section 1 introduction summary
Section 1- Introduction Summary

  • What you can do:

    • Review your plan to ensure it includes key elements

    • Contact community partnerships and schedule a meeting

    • Assess and prioritize hazards and risks

    • Plan an exercise or drill aimed at revising your plan

Section 2 prevention mitigation phase
Section 2:Prevention–Mitigation Phase

Prevention mitigation phase objectives
Prevention-Mitigation Phase:Objectives

  • Define “Prevention” and “Mitigation”

  • Demonstrate how Prevention-Mitigation measures emerge from an assessment

  • Provide sample strategies

Prevention mitigation phase
Prevention–Mitigation Phase

Prevention is the action schools and districts take to decrease the likelihood that an event or crisis will occur.

Mitigation actions are steps that eliminate or reduce the loss of life or property damage for events that cannot be prevented.

Many hazards have both and components.

Prevention mitigation phase1
Prevention – Mitigation Phase

  • Designed to assess and address

    • Safety and integrity of facilities

    • Security

    • Culture and climate of schools

  • Uses an all-hazards approach

  • Builds on what schools are already doing

  • Reliant on community partnerships and leadership

  • Is an ongoing process

  • Directly linked to the other three phases

Prevention and mitigation examples
Prevention and Mitigation Examples

Fencing hazardous areas

Anchoring outdoor equipment

Installing building access control measures

Conducting school vulnerability assessments

Establishing wellness programs

Establishing policies promoting health, safety, and security

Crime prevention through environmental design cpted
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)

  • CPTED is a multi-disciplinary four-strategy approach to deterring criminal behavior and supporting a safe school environment

    • Natural Surveillance

    • Territorial Reinforcement

    • Natural Access Control

    • Target Hardening

Example building access and exits
Example: Building Accessand Exits

  • Know who is entering school buildings

  • Lock doors when practical

  • Access cards or coded entry locks

  • Anticipate exit routes during an emergency

Example building materials and structures
Example: Building Materialsand Structures

Roofing – structurally sound? Materials fastened securely?

Awnings – will they hold up in a storm?

Outdoor utility connections protected?

Prevention mitigation school grounds
Prevention-Mitigation:School Grounds

  • School grounds - buffer between school buildings and the outside world

    • Campus entry points

    • Trees and shrubs around buildings and hidden areas

    • Emergency vehicle access

    • Unsafe equipment

Preventing violence school culture and climate
Preventing Violence:School Culture and Climate

Positive culture & climate = Less likelihood of violence

  • Welcoming

  • Connectedness

  • Respect

  • Cooperation

Culture and climate assessment
Culture and Climate Assessment

Useful for violence prevention and other important objectives

Culture and climate improvement requires a long-term strategy

Includes program-based solutions, e.g. anti-bullying program

Prevention mitigation phase summary
Prevention–Mitigation Phase: Summary

  • What you can do:

    • Work with community partners to conduct an assessment of school buildings, grounds, and surrounding community

    • Develop customized plans and procedures related to assessment outcome

    • Work to improve school culture/climate and implement violence prevention programs

Section 3 preparedness phases
Section 3: Preparedness Phases

What is the preparedness phase
What is the Preparedness Phase?

  • The Preparedness phase is designed to strengthen the school community by coordinating with community partners through:

  • Developing an emergency plan, policies and protocols

  • Adopting the Incident Command System (ICS)

  • Conducting staff training and drills

  • Goal is to facilitate a rapid, coordinated, and effective response in the event of an emergency

Steps for developing an emergency management plan
Steps for Developing an Emergency Management Plan

  • Step 1: Collect existing resources

  • Step 2: Conduct assessments

  • Step 3: Identify gaps and weaknesses

  • Step 4: Assemble plan

Steps for developing an emergency management plan1
Steps for Developing an Emergency Management Plan

  • Step 5: Incorporate vulnerability data

  • Step 6: Conduct trainings and exercises

  • Step 7: Revise plans based on outcomes of trainings and exercises

  • Step 8: Disseminate plan to stakeholders

  • Step 9: Establish accountability measures

Elements to be addressed in an emergency management plan
Elements to be Addressed in an Emergency Management Plan

  • All-hazards emergency procedures

  • Emergency supplies

  • Incident Command System (ICS)

  • Communication plans

  • Family reunification plans

  • Training and exercises

  • Recovery planning

  • Annual review and revision

Persons with disabilities and other access and functional needs
Persons with Disabilities and Other Access and Functional Needs

Include district special needs experts on your planning team to address needs:

Visual and hearing







Nims ics
NIMS & ICS Needs

The National Incident Management System (NIMS)

Used by all first responders, at all levels

Creates a common operating picture and mutual goals

Puts forth the Incident Command System (ICS)

The Incident Command System (ICS)

Put forth by NIMS

Uses a single management system

Facilitates effective response

Key nims and ics principles
Key NIMS and ICS Principles Needs

  • Emergencies require certain tasks or functions to be performed – ICS provides structure

  • Nature of the incident determines level of ICS activation – ICS is expandable and collapsible

  • Incident command - one incident commander:

    • May vary for different types of incidents

    • May change during incident response

  • Clear, pre-determined responsibilities and reporting lines

  • Uses common terminology and plain language

Incident Commander and Incident Command Team Needs

Liaison Officer

Public Information Officer

Safety Officer




Finance & Administration

Site Security

Insurance Claims


Documentation/ Recorder

Health Services/

First Aid

Food Services


Situation Analysis


Mental Health Response Team

Facility and Materials


Student Supervision

Student/Parent Reunification

Emergency management drills
Emergency Management Drills Needs

  • Define frequency, responsibilities and procedures for:

    • Fire evacuation drills

    • Severe weather drills

    • Lockdown drills

  • Include students and staff

  • Use “Curve ball” contingencies

  • Conduct after-action reporting

  • Tabletop exercises
    Tabletop Exercises Needs

    • Informal gathering of partners to orally review and practice the emergency plan’s elements

    • Provides an opportunity to

      • Clarify roles of involved parties during an emergency

      • Identify resources needed in an emergency

      • Identify and address gaps that may exist in current plan

      • Build relationships

    Full scale exercises
    Full-Scale Exercises Needs

    Requires extensive planning – and a planning team

    Conducted in collaboration with community partners including law enforcement and fire personnel

    Focuses on specific elements of an emergency scenario

    Used to help identify and address gaps that may exist in current plan and identify training needs

    Take precautions
    Take Precautions Needs

    • Ensure everyone involved understands the event is a drill and not an actual incident. 

      • Use Website, community announcements, school communications,

      • Use signs and other notices for observers and passersby or observers

  • Discuss with students before

  • Communication with the media and parents guardians
    Communication with the Media and Parents/Guardians Needs

    Public Information Officer –reports directly to the Incident Commander responsible for communications during an emergency

    Template media statements

    Prior communications with parents/guardians

    Staff and students

    Student accountability procedure
    Student Accountability Procedure Needs

    • Define in advance how students will be accounted for:

      • Before classes

      • During classes

      • In between classes

      • After classes, and

      • In the case of an emergency

    Parent guardian reunification procedure
    Parent/Guardian NeedsReunification Procedure

    Need for accurate contact information

    Define notification procedures

    Need for clear instructions to parents/guardians – photo identification

    Preparedness phase summary
    Preparedness Phase: Summary Needs

    • What you can do:

      • Integrate the Incident Command System

      • Define Response protocols and procedures

      • Address the needs of persons with disabilities

      • Develop communications procedures and templates

      • Develop student accountability procedures

      • Develop reunification procedures

      • Practice tabletops, drills, and full-scale exercises

    Section 4 response phase
    Section 4: Needs Response Phase

    What is the response phase
    What is the Response Phase? Needs

    • When emergency management plans are activated to effectively contain and resolve an emergency

      • Activate the Plan

      • Deploy Resources

      • Activate Communications Plan

      • Work with Community Partners/First Responders

      • Account for Students and Staff

      • Make Informed Decisions

    Key elements of response
    Key Elements of Response Needs

    • Activate the plan and the ICS

    • Work with first responders and other community partners

    • Assess of the problem and determine response

    • Deploy resources and make informed decisions

    • Account for students, faculty, and staff

    • Reunify parents/guardians with students

    • Initiate transition to the Recovery Phase

    • Conduct an after-action assessment as a tool for learning and improvement

    Response actions
    Response Actions Needs

    • During an emergency, there are three primary responses:

      • Evacuation

      • Lockdown

      • Shelter-in-place

    • Each response decision will depend on the specifics and the severity of the situation

    Response actions evacuation
    Response Actions: Evacuation Needs

    Use when locations outside the school are safer than inside the school

    Identify multiple evacuation routes in coordination with community partners

    Determine how teachers will account for students

    Ensure teachers, staff members, and administrators have appropriate “Go-kits”

    Response actions lockdown
    Response Actions: Lockdown Needs

    Use when there is an immediate threat of violence in, or immediately around, the school.

    Lock all exterior doors, if safe to do so

    Ensure public safety officials can enter the building

    Follow predetermined policy about closing blinds, turning off lights, and using status cards

    Move all staff and students to an area not visible from windows or doors

    Response actions shelter in place
    Response Actions: NeedsShelter-in-Place

    Use when students and staff must remain indoors during an extended period of time

    Close all windows and turn off all heating and air conditioning systems

    Plan for interrupted class schedules with substitute activities

    Provide accommodations for eating, sleeping and personal hygiene

    Have staff activate family emergency plans

    Response communications
    Response Communications Needs

    • Messages to students and staff (plain language vs. codes, use of placards)

    • Messages to parents

    • Discourage external cellular communications by students and staff during emergencies


    Post incident review
    Post-Incident Review Needs

    • “Hot wash” vs. After-action reviews

      • Hot wash: A brief meeting shortly after an event intended to capture immediate impressions or explanations of actions.

      • After-action review: A thorough debrief and evaluation approximately a week following an event to capture key lessons learned from emergency response and make recommendations for improvements.

    Response phase summary
    Response Phase: Summary Needs

    • What you need to do during Response:

      • Activate the ICS

      • Coordinate with first responders

      • Adapt to an evolving situation

      • Decide on Response strategies

      • Account for students – reunify with parents/guardians

      • Communicate with parents/guardians and the media

    Section 5 recovery phase
    Section 5: Needs Recovery Phase

    Recovery phase
    Recovery Phase Needs

    • Designed to assist students, staff, and their families in the healing process and to restore educational operations in schools.

    • Has four primary components:

      • Physical/structural recovery

      • Business/fiscal recovery

      • Restoration of the learning environment

      • Psychological/emotional recovery

    • Connected to other phases

    • Uses an all-hazards approach

    • Supported with community partners

    Physical and structural recovery
    Physical and Structural Recovery Needs

    • Physical/structural recovery addresses

    • Assessment and repair of facilities

    • Possible need for alternative sites or buildings due to extensive damage

  • Business and fiscal recovery addresses

    • Payroll and financial systems

    • Student registration systems

    • Record Management

  • Academic recovery
    Academic Recovery Needs

    • Academics – the primary purpose of schools

    • Important in restoring normalcy in the school environment

    • Close link to Physical and Structural Recovery Strategies:

      • Doubling up classes

      • Utilizing portable classrooms and community buildings

      • Distance learning

  • Emotional recovery can also greatly impact academic recovery

  • What is psychological emotional recovery
    What is Psychological/Emotional Recovery? Needs

    Purpose: Promote coping and support resiliency for students and staff following an emergency

    Key steps to take with community partners:

    • Recognize factors that may impact recovery

    • Provide Psychological First Aid

    • Establish a system for identifying and monitoring children and staff who may need additional support

    • Develop short- and long-term interventions as needed

    Adjustment Over Time in Crisis Needs

    A = baseline functioning

    B = event

    C = vulnerable state

    D = usual coping mechanisms fail

    E = helplessness, hopelessness

    F = improved functioning

    G = continued impairment (PTS)

    H = return to baseline

    I = post-traumatic growth










    Why psychological first aid
    Why Psychological First Aid? Needs

    When bad things happen children and adolescents are the most vulnerable victims.

    “The day before I started high school my mom found my brother and his wife, dead.”

    “There was a man who had a gun and ran into our school. We had to put the school on lockdown.”

    “The water came through the house and I was drowning, and I didn’t see my parents nowhere.”

    How do some adults deal with child trauma
    How Do Some Adults Deal with Child Trauma? Needs

    • “I don’t know what to say and I’m afraid I’ll make it worse”

    • Resulting Student Perceptions:

      • “I had a couple teachers that did not get the point at all.”

      • “I don’t really talk to them because they don’t know where I’m coming from, like nobody understands my pain.”

    How do students deal with trauma
    How Do Students Deal with Trauma? Needs

    “Sometimes I talk to some of my teachers because I have my favorites, they ones I feel comfortable talking to.”

    With psychological first aid
    With Psychological First Aid? Needs

    Every Adult On Campus

    Plays an Important Role

    The responsibility of caring adults
    The Responsibility of Caring Adults Needs

    Psychological First Aid after School Crises

    • Listen

    • Protect

    • Connect

    • Model

    • Teach

    Recovery phase summary
    Recovery Phase – Summary Needs

    What you can do:

    • Inventory assets and estimate replacement values

    • Assess damages using a damage assessment team; effectively manage reparations

    • Partner with mental health resources in the community; make counseling available

    • Identify/implement creative alternatives to continue learning

    Rems ta center
    REMS TA Center Needs

    For additional information, resources and technical assistance, please contact the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance (TA) Center

    Phone: (855) 781-7367 (REMS)

    Email: [email protected]