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Six Steps to Better Prepare Your School for an Emergency

 

October 3, 2017
By Fighting Chance Solutions

Wrapping up National Preparedness Month

During an emergency, every second counts. For the month of September, the Nation was challenged to prepare, evaluate, and raise awareness on the importance of emergency preparedness. All month long, schools, workplaces, family homes, and communities were encouraged to share their plans and explore new resources. As National Preparedness Month has come to a close, it is important for leaders in our school systems to consistently evaluate and practice their emergency plans throughout the year.

Below are proven school-wide preparedness and classroom security recommendations our Fighting Chance Solutions team has learned over the years we believe are essential to properly handle any emergency or crisis situation.

1.  The first and best line of defense is a highly alert, well-trained staff and student body
It is important to hold regularly scheduled trainings with school administrators, educators, and support staff on school violence prevention, school security and school emergency planning best practices.

2. Proactive measures  
Simple classroom layouts allow for easy, quick in-and-outs. Pre-plan how to barricade a room in the case of a violent intruder. Know your options.

3.Updating, coordinating, and exercising school emergency preparedness plans 
It wasn’t until the Columbine attack in April 1999, when most schools created emergency/crisis plans, but how often have those plans been evaluated and updated? Plans should be evaluated every set number of years, determined by the administration or a major operational change to the building/district. Schools should have district-level building plans, and be on the lookout for gaps in emergency plans. These might include a lack of training of school staff on emergency plans, or a lack of exercising plans in cooperation with public safety partners.

4. Strengthening partnerships with public safety officials
School officials should meet regularly with their public safety partners including police, fire, emergency medical services, and emergency management agencies to discuss safety, security, and emergency planning strategies. School officials and public safety officials should have the same diagrams and nomenclature for campus building layouts, entrances, and stairwells.

5. Plan to manage an incident, not just to prevent one
Coordinate areas ahead of time and have separate locations for responders to set up:
-A command post
-Medical response (separated from media and parents)
-Media staging
-Parent/family staging (separated from media and medical response

6. Be aware and communicate
In 93% of incidents of targeted school violence, the student engaged in the behavior prior to the attack that elicited concern. This means many aspects of these threats can be addressed in advance with proper assessment, reporting, and information sharing.

Additional Resources
The U.S. Department of Education provides funding to some school districts for emergency-management planning through its “Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools” grant program: Found here

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security provides funding to local jurisdictions and state for emergency-management planning. Some of this funding can be provided to school districts for emergency-management planning purposes.

How to be Proactive Against an Active Shooter

September 22, 2017
By Noell Bishop

In a world that is becoming more and more violent we see active shooters in businesses, malls, schools, colleges, movie theaters, airports, churches, parking garages or any place people gather. Most know the three tenants of an active shooter response: Run, Hide, Fight, but what can you do prepare yourself in your place of business or while out in public? We are going to run through all three of these but will highlight the Fight part as it pertains to the actual active shooter, Esteban Santiago at Fort Lauderdale Airport.

  1. Run – At work, do you have a plan that in the event of an active shooter you can get out? If you are in your office or work place, do you have a route that will provide you cover (protect you from bullets) or concealment (allows you not to be seen) to one or more exits? While in public, like at a mall, do you constantly know where the exits are or the rear exit of the store you are in?

  1. Hide – If you are in your office at work, can you secure the door so that a shooter could not get in? You might say, “Oh yea, I would just shove the filing cabinet in front of it”, well, can you even move the filing cabinet? Do you think about where you can hide while in public? Restrooms or the storage room in the back of a store are two places to consider.

 

  1. Fight – Most colleges and institutions do not address this in their briefings and just let law enforcement handle the situations. That’s all good until you are the one getting shot at and you have no idea what to do.   So, let’s take the example of Esteban Santiago, the Fort Lauderdale Airport shooter. Take a look here at what he did on the closed camera and what everyone else did, or didn’t do. There were a number of people all around and some just stood there and watched him shoot people. Some just lay on the ground. One lady is clearly seen hiding behind a baggage cart. I didn’t see anyone taking cover. What if one of the individuals next to Santiago tackled him? What if someone hit him with some type of field expedient weapon like an umbrella or small piece of luggage? I guarantee you that if one person would have known what to do or showed some leadership by tackling him or assaulting him, others would have joined in. Unfortunately, no one did and as a result, 5 people died and 6 were injured.

The Santiago shooting is a clear case of complete lack of training and having no survival mindset. The people in the luggage claim are just walked into the worst day of their life and had no idea how to react.

Noell Bishop is a retired Special Forces Officer, combat veteran and a retired Special Agent with the DEA who has received ALERRT active shooter training and teaches active shooter training in his company, Bishop 30 Solutions.