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How Do You Address Chaos in School Crisis Situations? School Security Plan Q&A, #3

This is part 3 of a Q&A of school administrators regarding their thoughts on school security plans.  For more information on the three participants, Rebecca Jurs, Greg Rabenhorst, and Scott Mackall, see part 1 of this series here.

Q3: How do you address the potential chaos that comes with crisis situations in schools?

RJ: We work to eliminate chaos through education and training — practicing our responses to different safety scenarios. By giving your staff and your students different scenarios, and not just with active shooters, but also with fire, we can create some chaos within the drill so that teachers and students learn to think on their feet. We do this with all our drills so when we have our fire drills for example, we'll have our fire department present and we will have them block off an exit as in the case of a fire. That helps keep our kids from being fearful and keeps them knowledgeable so they think, "I can problem-solve in the middle of a situation like this," because that's what we practice in our drills.  

The other piece is tweaking and updating or revisiting our practices on a regular basis with new information we learn from these events when they occur across the country.

SM: Simplicity. Keeping training and what we require of staff simple and intuitive is critical.  In a panic people will not react normally so keeping their response simple is the best option.  Also, informing the staff, students and visitors of the next step and that help is on the way is important. People must be focused on the procedure in a potential chaos or crisis situation, if we think about it, when a fire alarm is pulled the staff knows exactly what procedure to follow. But they may not know in a case of a threat. Maybe this is because when they hear the fire alarm they know the fire department is on the way and this provides peace of mind. We should be offering that peace of mind in a crisis situation as well.

GR: Again, having systems in place that can guide a response is imperative, and communication mechanisms must also be in place. Our District continues to work to inform staff, students and parents about safety procedures in place, as well as the roles everyone plays in that emergency scenario. Weld Re-3J created a presentation to inform parents and community members about procedures for lock downs, lock outs, fire drills and other emergency procedures.  

In part 4, the panel answers the question "Where do you see the intersection between security technology and emergency preparedness?"

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