During our school security assessments, we often run a variety of school crisis simulations in a one-on-one fashion. Over the past decade we have noticed a variety of patterns of concern. Most consistently observed with administrators and front office staff who have made announcements in concert with drills in the past, this is a type of stress reaction that can easily occur under field conditions because of the manner in which drills are conducted.
When a school administrator has made announcements for drills multiple times, which include references to the announcement being part of a drill, it is easy for this to occur. A simple strategy to reduce the chances that this will occur is to have a second person come on the intercom once the instruction to implement the protocol has been announced and state that the event is only a drill. For example, one staff member might announce “All students and staff, implement severe weather sheltering procedures now, I repeat, all students and staff, implement severe weather sheltering procedures now” followed by a separate announcement made by a different staff member stating “all students and staff, this is a drill, I repeat, all students and staff, this is a drill.” This simple approach can help reduce the chances that staff will announce that a drill is being conducted during a real emergency. This can be important because staff may become panicked if they are told an event is a drill when they learn that they are experiencing an actual event.