Today let’s do another brief assessment – this time of your school or district’s Emergency Operations Plan (often called a crisis plan). Just like yesterday, it’s a quick three questions:
1. When was the last time your school/district crisis plan was reviewed or updated? EOPs should be updated annually and given a through review at least every three years. A close examination of many crisis plans reveals outdated information such as incorrect phone numbers, people listed who no longer are employed in the organization or in that capacity, floor plans that do not reflect new construction or remodeling, and a host of other inaccuracies that can compromise an effective crisis response.
When revisions are undertaken, it is important to involve all relevant stakeholders in the process such as administrators, teachers, and local emergency responders.
2. Does your EOP contain all the necessary response protocols?
Crisis plans should contain specific instructions and procedures that reflect an all-hazards approach including lockdown, evacuation, reverse evacuation, severe weather, bomb threats, and shelter in place. Many EOPs address specific situations such as an active shooter, intruder, tornado, or fire rather than the response protocols to be enacted.
3. Is your crisis plan easy to use, easy to locate, and user friendly?
A thick binder of detailed checklists gathering dust on a shelf reflects a lack of planning, preparation, and ownership. EOPs should be active working documents that are consistently present in every room, easily accessible when needed, and most significantly, contains a concise description of relevant information that will quickly aid an individual in responding appropriately to a crisis event.
For additional information and step by step instructions on evaluating and updating emergency operation plans, see FEMA and the US Department of Education’s 2013 publication Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans at our website, www.eschoolsafety.org.