Risk Management |
Article by Jeff Bedford, Holton-Arms School
From the March/April 2020 Net Assets magazine
Most schools have come a very long way to prepare for worst-case scenarios since the horrors of Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook, among others. Hopefully, your school has emergency plans that are written, briefed to faculty, staff and students and then drilled. But can you say that your school’s leadership is prepared to address and handle specific situations that may not be as oft-discussed as a lockdown or shelter drill?
In the world of law enforcement, hazardous material control, and emergency medical services, the use of exercises to hone emergency management skills are now commonplace, but do you do them in your school? Prior to my work at Holton-Arms School, I spent 27 years in the FBI. For three of those years I was part of the Bureau's Crisis Management Unit and Critical Incident Response Group, where I wrote and conducted exercises, so
I know their value. They can take several formats:
Any exercise is meant to stimulate people to think and talk about scenarios that security managers worry about daily but keep at bay 99% of the time. Scenarios should be informative, thought-provoking, unpredictable and slightly stressful but ultimately enjoyable to work through, even if they touch on the dark side of school life.
Tabletop exercises have challenges, not the least of which is getting the appropriate people to the table. Notably, the primary decision-makers must have designated back-ups who are also trained in crisis management, in case the primary is unavailable when a real situation arises. Once you have the right people, the process before, during and after the exercise is fairly basic.
Before the Exercise
During the Exercise
Any tabletop exercise needs to be tailored specifically to your school. There is nothing wrong with drawing on commonly used scenario exercises as long as you put them in your school’s context. Here are couple more developed scenarios:
Other possible scenarios might consider school responses to:
Other possible scenarios can be found by doing internet searches. You can also use your imagination. Don’t make it unrealistic for your school, but be sure to expose some of the dark side of school life.
Ready for Anything: Preparing for Campus Emergencies (Mar/Apr 2018)
Use the Calm To Weather the Storm: Preparing the Board for a Crisis (web-only, Apr 2019)
Safety & Security: In a Day, on a Dime (Sep/Oct 2019)
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