September – the month anticipation reaches its peak for every educator. There’s a buzz of excitement in the air. But as school resumes, the fall season can also become imbedded with underlying concerns of safety from parents and colleagues, should a crisis occur.
Good news! Based on industry standards and regulations for emergency management and education facilities in Canada, you likely already have a plan in place. You may have already considered the threats in your location, determined the plans goals and objectives and developed that plan on paper. It’s now time for that annual update. It doesn’t need to be daunting. Grab some snacks, create a collaborative group and get out the highlighter.
Identifying the risks your students and staff could be exposed to, will help you properly plan and prepare for response and recovery. In some cases, you may even prevent a scenario from occurring. Risks can come in many forms, from natural disasters like landslides, flooding and earthquakes, to intentional acts of crime.
Here we explore some key elements that need to be considered in your planning, to help determine if your school is ready.
If your school’s primary method of communication is via telephone, have you identified an alternative method of communication should the phone lines become unavailable? For example the circuits may be overloaded or the telecommunications lines might be damaged. If not, consider the use of social media as a communication tool during an emergency. Additionally, would parents and/or guardians know where to look to obtain relevant information?
Have each child build their own emergency kit. This can help prepare them mentally and aid in keeping them a little calmer. Including some treats, a toy, a game or a book will help to keep them occupied.
And having each child enclose a picture of them with their parents or guardian, as well as emergency contact details can be critical resources for family reunification following an emergency.
Work with local police and municipal emergency services when enhancing plans, including the responses to criminal acts. The nightmare of an active threat is sadly a reality that cannot be ignored. La Loche, Saskatoon in January 2016 serves as a horrible indicator as to the reality of this risk. Engaging the police in pre-planning to this sort of hazard can mean the difference between keeping your students and staff safe, and tragedy.