Developing Strategic Response and Action Plans for School Emergencies

Developing Strategic Response and Action Plans for School Emergencies

Michael R. Lewis (Tiffin University, USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-6246-7.ch022
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Emergency management professionals at the local, state, and federal levels of government have been augmented through the use of nonprofit organizations, private organizations, and organized and unorganized volunteers to assist with planning, response, and recovery efforts in preparation for resolving school violence and related emergencies. The first responder, which includes police, fire, EMS, and public health professionals, is America's first line of defense during emergency events, and have become a critical component when responding to school emergency situations. This chapter explores developing strategic response and actions plans for school emergencies.
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The beginning of the 21st. Century has been plagued with many disasters and emergencies which has had devastating and horrific effects not only on the world, but the United States, it’s citizenry, communities, and those that respond to these dangerous events. These events have also demonstrated the critical need for recognizing that all jurisdictions must prepare and coordinate for emergency situations within our local schools. Through effective coordination efforts, local responders can achieve success in their emergency operations. Today, local police, firefighters, and emergency medical service technicians have become heavily relied upon to combat school tragedies. In addition, nurses, physicians, private and public institutions, and individual citizens alike also have a great responsibility to provide and assist with supporting in the first line of defense of our local schools. There are many coordination challenges that affect the readiness level of our communities which include preparedness, collaboration, information sharing, response, and recovery from an event. Some of the major events that our communities must plan and be prepared for are natural disasters, local and wide spread emergencies, civil disturbances, and of course against terrorist attacks involving biological, chemical, radiological weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and school emergencies (Dudley, 2003, p.244).

These events are ever evolving and rapidly changing, and it is therefore vital that all sectors and levels of the government accept responsibility and participate in developing realistic plans to assist when disastrous events and emergencies occur.

Today, many of the activities and objectives of local, state, and federal emergency management agencies in the United States are based upon a “comprehensive emergency management model”. This model divides the emergency management function into four distinct phases (DeLisi, 2002, p. 10).

  • 1.

    Mitigation: Assesses the risk posed by a hazard or potential disaster and attempts to reduce the risk.

  • 2.

    Preparedness: Develops a response plan based upon risk assessment, training response, personnel, arranging for necessary resources, making arrangements with other jurisdictions for sharing of resources, and clarifying jurisdictional responsibilities.

  • 3.

    Response: Implement plans, reduce the potential for secondary damage, and preparing for a recovery phase.

  • 4.

    Recovery: Reestablishing life support systems, such as repairing electrical power networks and providing temporary housing, food, and clothing.

This four-phase model was designed by The National Governors' Association study in the late 1970’s (DeLisi, 2002, p. 11) and provides much of the current conceptual language in the emergency management field, and can be used as a comprehensive framework to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergency situations at schools.



Violence in the United States has reached epidemic proportions, which has unfortunately spilled over into the schools. Nationally, violence in the schools is a major safety issue that must be approached from both a short-term and a long-term perspective, which should incorporate prevention as well as intervention strategies (Vail, 1998, p. 23). These concerns for school safety has led to the development of new laws governing safety and security in the schools, better policies and procedures for recognizing potential violence, and response efforts to protect against violent activities. Many school districts have also included the adoption of zero-tolerance approaches, conduct targeted and random searches of students and their property, utilization of metal detectors, and preventing violence through education, in addition to the implementation of critical incident management strategies.

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