Emergency Evacuation Kits

                Emergency Evacuation Kit

I am pretty sure that one of the first magazine columns I wrote more than twenty years ago described the importance of emergency evacuation kits. I find these kits to be just as important today as they were then. I still find schools today that do not have these valuable emergency preparedness assets. Known by a variety of names, emergency evacuation kits contain the bare essential items and information school officials need to manage a crisis event when it is not possible to go back into their school or when structural damage occurs after occupants are sheltered.

 
Though I have seen a variety of commercial variants, the best quality emergency evacuation kits I have seen have all been assembled by school and public safety officials. I have also seen a variety of containers used including soft bags, plastic file boxes and even rolling trash cans. I have found that rolling backpacks with collapsible handles are perhaps the most practical option as they can easily be carried down a flight of stairs, over snow-covered ground or rolled on pavement for extended evacuations.

 
I have always suggested that clients consider having two duplicate kits stored in separate locations in the building with one kit being located away from the main office. This can be important during a hostage situation or tornado strike which affects the main office. As with other critical emergency preparedness measures, it is a good idea for backup personnel to be designated to get each kit out in an emergency. I also recommend that kits be taken outside during evacuation drills and taken to shelter areas when sheltering for severe weather or hazardous materials incidents.

 
Emergency evacuation kits by any name usually offer a good return on the investment of time and fiscal resources required to develop and maintain them.

School Safety Fidelity: April 2017 Issue of School Safety Monthly Now Available

School Safety Fidelity

This month’s issue of school safety monthly is an interesting topic that spans all that we do in keeping our schools safe. While the concept is as fundamental as the all-hazards approach to emergency management, it is sometimes easy to forget the basics. School safety fidelity is as simple as making sure we do what we say we are going to do. This can manifest itself in different ways, from a failure to follow proscribed student supervision policies to the use of active shooter programs that breed inconsistency by design. Having practices, policies and training that are mismatched is one of the easiest ways to create liability and increase actual risk.

Room for improvement in school safety practices and procedures to enhance fidelity can be found in many areas. From basics like student supervision to more complex issues like active shooter response and mandatory reporting for child sexual abuse, mismatched policies and practices can cause injury and death when not addressed. In actuality, we should be taking a closer look at everything we do during the periodic review and updating of our plans.

The good news is that like most obstacles, this one can be overcome. There are a number of ways to identify gaps in school safety fidelity. There are also several ways to close these gaps and enhance school safety with sometimes very little actual effort. In many cases the answer is a simple adjustment of practice or training update. Read this month’s issue of School Safety Monthly: School Safety Fidelity to find out how.

Click the image below to download the April 2017 issue of School Safety Monthly:

School Safety Fidelity: April 2017

For past issues of School Safety Monthly as well as archived issues of our electronic journal The Safety Net, visit our newsletter archives page here:

The Safety Net Volume 3 Issue 2

Newsletter & eJournal Archives Page

Learning Lessons from School Safety Litigation

A few years back I wrote about viewing school safety through the lens of litigation. Between conference keynotes and working with school districts, I am still buried up to my neck in case files for civil actions against school and public safety officials. I am always busy with expert witness work and school safety litigation is time-consuming, but some cases have more complexity than others. This month’s collection of binders contains a series of complicated situations which demand close attention and painstaking examination.

While I decline the vast majority of cases I am contacted about, I do find that working some cases serves as a valuable learning experience. School safety incidents usually look quite different when you review 5 to 10 binders of documents along with security camera footage, audio from 911 calls and other evidence in contrast to viewing a 90-second blip on the news.

Though this month marks my 35th year in the field of campus safety, I must say that I still learn something new each year. I learn from respected colleagues, from reading books and articles, conducting school security assessments, and in general, we learn a great deal from our clients. However, some of the most invaluable lessons I have learned have come from my work in school safety litigation. Spending 40, 50, 60 or more hours reviewing a case file and preparing a report that is more thoroughly cited page per page than the average master’s thesis is always challenging and informative.

Carefully reviewing depositions, policies, manuals, training program power points, legal documents, camera footage, and other forms of evidence affords quite a different view than most other forms of work that I do. These experiences shape the way I view documentation, verbiage in policies, procedures, training programs and virtually every aspect of school safety. When I deliver a conference presentation, conduct assessments, or prepare written reports for clients, I am constantly considering how the words, concepts, and actions of my audience and clients would be perceived in the event of safety-related litigation.

Whether the case involves an active shooter incident, the rape of a student in their school, molestation of young children by school employees, death from sudden cardiac arrest or the death of a child crushed by a falling object in a classroom, each case offers valuable lessons on how the chances that serious injuries and deaths can be averted with effective safety practices.

This perspective also drives a more important thought process. If the strategies, documentation, and training processes are well-designed from a liability reduction standpoint, they are usually also more reliable in preventing and preparing for school crisis events. While not always the case, most of the cases I work involve a tragic ending. Using what I learn as each tragedy is dissected page by page and frame by frame, does create the silver linings in such dark clouds. While no school safety measures are foolproof, there are many opportunities and possibilities to prevent tragic events in schools. Application of the lessons to be learned from each tragedy can help to prevent many more devastating school crisis events so that we can avoid school safety litigation altogether.

school safety litigation case files

This is the initial case file for a single-victim case resulting in school safety litigation.

SafeTopics School Safety Training Videos Now Available Online

The “Netflix of School Safety”: CampusSafetyHQ offers Online School Safety Training Videos and more

As you may have read in Campus Safety magazine, there is a great new resource available for school safety trainers and educators. Over the years, the magazine has been more than just a publication and has put on some of the leading professional conferences in the industry. They have now taken their contributor’s expertise to the next level with Campus Safety HQ – bringing streaming school safety training videos to your computer or mobile device. These include content from a variety of experts – including our school safety training video library.

Campus Safety HQ logo

Campus Safety HQ

Try The First 30 Seconds scenario training series – and more – for $1

For a limited time, CampusSafetyHQ is offering a free trial for only $1 – a great value. Since we first released The First 30 Seconds in 2012, we have had a number of schools that want to use our crisis scenarios but either cannot use DVDs or cannot get purchasing approval for the full DVD set. This is a great opportunity to try out the videos in streaming format. This means you don’t need to carry DVDs or other materials with you. All you have to do is log on to any computer to access the training videos and school crisis scenarios. Show them on your laptop for staff evaluation exercises, or project them onto the big screen for group discussions. All the great resources that are in the DVD set are now available online for monthly subscribers at Campus Safety HQ for a limited time at only $1 for the first month and $47 per month after that.

More Online School Safety Videos added regularly

CampusSafetyHQ.com has a growing library of streaming content, including a collection of action plans on topics ranging from bomb threats to mental health recovery. Our school crisis scenario series The First 30 Seconds is now available and eventually the entire SafeTopics series will be available. This is a great option for someone who is looking for a variety of training for themselves and the organization as a whole. Take some time for your own professional development and watch a conference presentation from industry experts like Dr. Randy Atlas or Security Director Guy Grace. Then take that knowledge and train your staff with our school crisis scenario series. There are plenty of options for all employees and all levels of preparedness at Campus Safety HQ.

Check out this video from Campus Safety about the new resource:

Navigate Prepared School Safety Seminars a Success

Navigate Prepare School Safety Seminar

We have had a busy couple of weeks presenting four high-impact scenario-based school safety seminars sponsored by Navigate Prepared. Last week, we presented at two seminars in Cincinnati and Chicago followed by seminars in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The seminars consisted of a dynamic three – hour interactive session using more than thirty audio and video school crisis scenarios. After a lunch provided by Navigate Prepared, each group was split into two groups with one group participating in a walk-through of the facility to discuss ways to enhance safety, security, school climate and emergency preparedness while the second group participated in an interactive discussion and demonstration of the Navigate Prepared system. After one hour, the two groups switched places and the process repeated. We had excellent feedback on this approach at a Navigate Prepared event in Ohio last year and the feedback was very positive for all four of this year’s seminars.

More Seminars to Come

We had excellent participation from school, law enforcement and fire service personnel with an impressive number of school superintendents making time to attend the events. I had the opportunity to see participants from previous projects and to make new acquaintances. I also had the opportunity to spend a good bit of time visiting with Navigate Prepared personnel riding with them between events. Due to the positive feedback, Navigate Prepared is planning a series of similar seminars for the fall and I am looking forward to these events.

Navigate Prepared School Crisis Scenarios

As we appreciate the opportunity to spread our messages of school safety to so many people through these seminars, the Safe Havens International team is scripting, recording and editing a dozen new school audio crisis scenarios for use by Navigate Prepared and their clients as a free value-added service. These should be finished in the next week or so and we are excited to see Navigate Prepared make them available to school and public safety officials. In 35 years working in the field, I have never seen a tool that is more effective in helping school officials train, practice and evaluate their plans, procedures and technology solutions as the scenarios we have been developing over the past decade.

I feel honored to be able to work with the Navigate Prepared team and the many impressive people I had the opportunity to meet in this four-city tour. I am looking forward to the next multi-state tour in the fall.

To stay informed about audio scenarios and upcoming fall Safety Summit locations visit: http://www.navigateprepared.com/safety-summits/

Free School Safety Conference Series, Presented by Navigate-Prepared

Great opportunity to attend a free school safety conference

Today I am honored to be able to keynote a free school safety conference being presented by NaviGate Prepared in Cincinnati, Ohio. What’s really exciting is that this is the first in a series of free school safety conferences in three states over the next two weeks.  I have had the privilege of presenting for them before and we are currently planning additional conferences for New York and Pennsylvania in September.  For each free school safety conference, I will present for three hours in the morning followed by interactive school safety building tours with participants. This is a great chance to learn hands-on with me and see a school through my perspective.

While we do not provide product endorsements or sell advertising space, we do appreciate NaviGate Prepared for their commitment to safer schools. This conference series is a great example, with a full day of solid content and concepts – not filler designed to focus on a particular product.

For more information on these events, please visit: http://www.navigateprepared.com/home-featured/school-safety-michael-dorn/

 

Free School Safety Conference information from the NaviGate Prepared website:

School safety is the focus as we team up with Michael Dorn, executive director, Safe Havens International to bring day-long Safety Summit Workshops to the following locations:

  • Princeton City Schools – Viking Village Auditorium, Cincinnati, OH – March 21 – Register here
  • Grayslake Community School District 127 – High School Auditorium, Grayslake, IL – March 22 – Register here
  • Allegheny Intermediate Unit 3 – Auditorium, Homestead, PA – March 27 – Register here
  • Colonial Intermediate Unit 20 – Auditorium, Easton, PA – March 28 – Register here

The Safety Summits are free to registered guests, including district administrators, building administrators, and first responders.

During the workshops, Michael will share actionable insights guests can implement immediately. Guests will participate in a relevant series of exercises and discover how tools like NaviGate Prepared can support school safety goals. The agenda includes a school safety audit where Michael will identify safety gaps, effective solutions and best practices throughout the building.

NaviGate Prepared is sponsoring the Safety Summit Workshops to give administrators and first responders access to critical safety information. According to Thom Jones, general manager, NaviGate Prepared, “I love seeing how audiences react during Michael’s presentations. He is a tremendously dynamic speaker. The depth of his knowledge and experience is unparalleled.” Jones states, “I am thrilled we are able to bring this level of school safety knowledge to so many administrators and first responders.”

“We are honored to be hosting the Safety Summit Workshop at Grayslake Central High School,” says Catherine Finger, Ed.D, superintendent, Grayslake Community High School District 127. She adds, “School safety is always a top priority for us so we appreciate this opportunity to learn new ways to mitigate risks, prepare our staff and students to respond appropriately in an emergency and implement proven safety methods throughout our buildings. We look forward to many Illinois school districts taking advantage of this important event and appreciate the generosity of NaviGate Prepared sponsoring this workshop and for bringing renowned safety expert, Michael Dorn.”