How Schools Are Preparing Through Drills
Methods to Gain the Most From Your School Drills
Unfortunately we live in a day and time that our schools must prepare for the most difficult emergency situations, including violent intruders and active shooters. Although it is hard to imagine that it would happen in our town, it is reassuring to know that schools are taking a proactive approach and preparing the best they can for these instances through different means, including drills. Today we want to give you some of those methods in order for you to gain the most knowledge and be proactive by implementing drills.
First and foremost, training needs to be done in partnership with trained first responders to be the most effective. Many school districts hold annual training seminars with first responders in order to implement new protocol and to review and amend emergency response plans as necessary. By working with and partnering with first responders to run drills, you are increasing the hands-on knowledge base for your faculty and staff as well as your community first responders. This creates a unified and cohesive response in times of crisis.
To maximize your drills, schedule them for 2-3 consecutive days, involving your first responders on all days. By utilizing multiple days, you can review plans, practice and drill for them, and close out by debriefing about the events and potential amendments in order to increase the response in the event of an incident.
You and your first responders should be practicing real life scenarios that have happened and are likely to happen again on school grounds. This includes practicing in a school for an active shooter situation, where law enforcement respond in full response uniforms, carrying pellet or airsoft guns with people yelling in the background. Practicing in a chaotic situation, allows for a better response in the event of this type of crisis. Practice for different scenarios such as multiple shooters, and a violent intruder with a knife instead of a firearm.
While running drills, many questions arise, one of the most common being how to get paramedics to victims faster. In recent months, some schools have been enacting protocol to address this issue. Instead of law enforcement entering and clearing the situation before paramedics are given access to the victims, paramedics and fire personnel are following behind armed law enforcement and making their way to victims faster. When running drills have participants lay down faking an injury for a more realistic scenario. Although more first responders would potentially be in harm’s way, they often don’t mind working together in these instances to keep each other safe and increase the survivability of victims.
Unfortunately there is no set way to respond to every situation because each situation is different. By testing and practicing a variety of ways to respond, effectiveness is increased. For instance, test a traditional lock down during an active shooter scenario and then test the ALICE method and see if there is a difference in survivability. The ALICE method utilizes many different ways to prevent danger including: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. This method also urges individuals to barricade themselves behind doors and distract the shooter by throwing chairs, etc.
Many school administrators are leaning away from the old method of announcing incidents through code words. They have found that not everyone knows or remembers code words and that confusion can cause unnecessary harm. Instead, during drills practice announcing the incident in plain English for all to hear. If a parent or substitute teacher is in the school, they may not know code words and ultimately end up in harm’s way. Practicing these announcements through drills helps to test notification systems and gets the announcer comfortable in keeping a calm tone that is easily understood.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This still holds true today and in order to do something properly, you must practice. That is why drills with faculty, staff and community partners is critical to effective response. Schools have been increasing their security recently and have been practicing drills with local first responders to be adequately trained on a variety of incidents. How does your school prepare for emergencies through drills? Let us know in the comments below.