The Safety Net – Volume 1, Issue 2 (December 2006)



 Safe Havens International, Inc –
_ Safe Havens International Presents . . .

The Safety Net 

Issue 2 Volume 1; Spring 2007  

In this Issue:

Business Continuity Planning for Schools and Communities
by Sonayia Shepherd

Recovery Planning for Educational Facilities
by Sonayia Shepherd

In Each Issue . . .
Hazards in Plain View: Developing Your Sixth Sense for School Safety

420: Recognizing Signs of Student Drug Abuse

Quick, what do we do?: Sample Tabletop Exercise Scenario

News Briefs

Free Resources

Have a question that you’d like us to answer? E-mail us and we may include the response in our next issue.


Multiple Victim Casualty Incidents Show Need for  Written Recovery Plans

The tragic crash of the bus carrying Bluffton University’s baseball team in Atlanta on the morning of March 2, 2007 and the grievous loss of life following the destruction of  Enterprise High School in Alabama the day before demonstrate the importance of a detailed and comprehensive recovery plan in written form.  Unfortunately, many public and independent K-12 schools, colleges and universities still do not have a written recovery plan.  More still have only one out of the two plan sections recommended by the United States Department of Education (USDOE) in their recovery plan.  The devastating tornado strike on Enterprise HS is the fourth incident we are aware of this year where a
K-12 school has been destroyed or severely damaged, and the Atlanta bus crash comes only three months after the shocking high school bus crash in Alabama that left four dead and many others wounded.  Having a written mental health recovery plan as well as a written business continuity plan are a must for schools and school systems that want to have a truly effective four- phase school crisis plan.  The incident at Enterprise HS also reminds us of the need to design schools in a manner reflective of local hazards.  While design features cannot fully protect occupants from every catastrophic event or hazard, they can dramatically improve the level of safety of occupants in the event of a catastrophic event like an earthquake or tornado.  Several upcoming training sessions, including an advanced level seminar at the University of Louisville, will address the safest design features of K-12 and higher education facilities and how to use proven practices to prevent violent incidents using an all hazards approach (for more information click here).

This issue of The Safety Net focuses on resources to help you plan for and respond to incidents like these, including information on Business Continuity and Recovery Planning for educational facilities and communities. If you have any questions or comments about these topics or another school safety issue please feel free to contact us.


Business Continuity Planning for Schools & Communities

By Sonayia Shepherd, CEO, Safe Havens International

This article is modified from the Business Continuity Plan Template from Safe Havens International, Inc.

Whenever disaster strikes, the most critical asset that every school must protect from sudden loss is their human resources (the people that occupy the building) and their data.    No matter what happens, schools must be capable of maintaining operations no matter how sudden or how severe the damage or loss is.  By creating a Business Continuity Plan schools are increasing their level of preparedness and maintaining a continuity of operations that is a basic requirement of any effective educational facility.

Scope of the Business Continuity Plan

The objective of School Business Continuity Planning (BCP) is to restore critical systems and the restore the learning environment immediately.  
Planning for the business continuity of a school system or a university in the aftermath of a disaster is a complex task. Preparation for, response to, and recovery from a disaster affecting administrative functions requires the cooperative efforts of many support organizations, in partnership with the functional areas supporting the “business” of your organization. The BCP outlines and coordinates all efforts to restore the staff & community of your organization post-disaster.

BCP Components

I           Outline of Technology Systems within the school (including back up systems)

II         Outline of essential data and activities necessary to maintain the school. This comprises the overall structure of the BCP.

       General responsibilities of the individual Information Technology Support Teams that together form the Business Continuity Management Team, emphasizing the function of each team and its preparation responsibilities in respect to restoring the essential functions outlined in Part II (above).

       Recovery actions for the Information Technology Support Teams and important checklists such as the notification list for a disaster and an inventory of resources required for the environment. [Note: If a “disaster” situation arises, Section IV of the Plan is the only section that needs to be referenced. It contains all of the procedures and support information for recovery.]

This is an abbreviated version of the full article, which can be found here. For
information on our planning templates, which can assist you by
providing an All Hazards Four Phase framework to guide you in designing
your Crisis Plan, visit our Template Information page.


Crisis Recovery Planning for Educational Facilities

By Sonayia Shepherd, CEO, Safe Havens International, Inc.

Modified from the “School Crisis Recovery Plan Template”  

A Recovery Plan is an integral part of the four phase crisis planning process. Every recovery plan should be designed to ensure the continuation of vital emotional and cognitive processes in the event that a disaster occurs or a major crisis event affects the psyche of students, faculty and staff. The Crisis Recovery Plan can assist the school system in providing effective emotional health services that can be used to help individuals recover from a crisis event, provide procedures to handle emergency situations that may have an emotional impact on people, and to accomplish the following objectives:

  • Prepare crisis team members to respond effectively in a crisis situation.
  • Manage the crisis recovery activities in an organized and effective manner.
  • Limit the emotional impact of any crisis situation.

Should an emergency situation occur at any educational facility, the school’s recovery efforts should be tailored to provide an effective method that can be used by crisis team members to control all activities associated with the crisis situation in a proactive manner and to lessen the potential negative impact with the media and the community at large. It is important to review the plan carefully to ensure that it includes:

  • Documentation for each responsibility.
  • Procedures and checklists that will be used to manage and control the situation following an emergency or crisis occurrence.
  • Forms that will be used to document activities.

In any event, your Recovery Plan is one element of developing a strategy. The plan’s success, however, depends upon:

  1. Implementation of the recommendations made by a group of local experts to include community mental health officials, emergency management personnel and public health representatives. It is essential to commit to implementing all recommendations and strategies identified in the Recovery Plan, otherwise investment made in its preparation will be redundant. Similarly, training and awareness must be embarked upon to ensure that the entire school community is confident and competent concerning the plan.
  2. A program of training of those directly involved in the execution of the plan. All parties must appreciate the importance of the school’s Recovery Plan to the operation’s survival and their role in this process.
  3. An education and awareness program to ensure district-wide understanding and adoption of the plan, covering internal and external stakeholders, i.e. employees, students, and parents. This awareness should extend to parents and other stakeholders upon whom the school system depends or has influence in both normal and crisis operations.

Finally, your plan should be updated annually, exercised and should always be readily available to authorized personnel.

This is an abbreviated version of this article. For the full article including a detailed outline of the three step recovery process, click here.





Hazards in Plain View: Developing Your Sixth Sense of School Safety

month we will feature a photo illustrating a hazard and how to fix it,
or alternatively a positive example of ways that schools have improved their safety and

What’s wrong with this picture?

This is one of the most common hazards we see at any facility, not just educational institutions. Not only could this serve as a weapon, but more importantly it is an invitation to prop the door open, thus bypassing any benefit of the self-locking door. While of course it is sometimes necessary to prop a door open for short periods of time, leaving any item near the door that allows it to be easily propped increases your chances of having a violent incident involving an intruder in the school. At the very least this type of debris detracts from the overall cleanliness of the campus and should be avoided.

For examples and training on conducting Site Surveys of your
facility, please see the Tactical Site Survey slide show in
our Free Resources section. While most examples are taken from schools, it is not hard to find applications for this technique in any facility or field.

Have a photo that you think should be featured in this column? E-mail it to us and if we feature it we’ll send you a free book. Remember that both positive and negative examples are welcome.


420: Recognizing Signs of Student Drug Abuse

What’s wrong with this picture?

This is an example of a common type of makeshift pipe that can be used
to smoke methamphetamine or crack cocaine. These are sold at gas stations as “Rose Tubes” for about $1 as a novelty item, but to the trained eye it is clear from the foil-covered end and the open other end that these are intended for a different use (why would only one end be sealed?). Coincidentally the sealed end is covered with foil, which is one component of homemade pipes similar to this one. In some cases stores have even been known to sell them by the slang name of “crack kits” in a paper bag along with a lighter and a piece of screen for the pipe. While there are obviously innocent uses for an item like this, and not every store selling them is doing so for this purpose, this item is certainly something to watch out for in context. Many store owners and operators appear to be unaware of this use, with one quoted as saying “I had no idea that’s what those were for, but I always wondered why they were kept beneath the counter with the tobacco products.”

If you have a photo that you’d like featured in this column e-mail us.

Quick, What do we do?

A Sample Tabletop Exercise Scenario

What is a Tabletop Exercise?
A focused exercise designed to test and determine gaps in your existing
crisis plan. For more information on conducting drills & exercises please see the end of this article.

A note about this month’s scenario:

While we included this scenario because of the recent incidents involving school & university buses, this is a scenario that was developed several years ago based on an actual incident in the Southeast. We also want to stress that the planning process should not focus too much on one type of incident (for example transportation accidents), but on an All Hazards approach to safety.

School bus on out of town field trip struck by commercial vehicle

It’s 8:04AM on a Saturday morning and you’ve just arrived at your crisis response team’s meeting location after being notified that a bus accident involving multiple fatalities has occurred.  Your team is briefed with the following available information:

-The bus was transporting students on a field trip to an amusement park in a neighboring state
-The accident took place on a highway that spans a river
-The bus was hit head-on by a large commercial truck
-Upon impact, the bus was thrown off of the bridge and landed upside down in the river about forty feet below, and is partially submerged.
-The driver of the truck has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol.
-Rescue crews report that they have recovered all victims and bodies of victims from the bus.  They are dragging the river to ensure that there are no additional bodies and expect to complete that process later in the day.
-Fourteen children are reported to have been killed.
-The driver was reportedly killed.
-The three parent chaperones were all reportedly killed.
-Eight children have been transported to three different area hospitals for treatment, at least two are in critical condition.
-The incident is being widely reported on national and local media, with graphic helicopter footage showing the bus and the covered bodies of the children on the river bank

What do you do next?
-Death notification
-Media briefings
-Mental health recovery

Each month we will feature a different exercise (tabletop or
functional) to give you ideas for your own emergency plan testing
program. For more information on testing your plans with drills and
exercises, check out the free FEMA Independent Study course IS-139 or our training offerings.

FEMA recommends that emergency response plans be tested using a
graduated series of exercises (Orientation, Drills, Tabletop Exercise,
Functional Exercise, Full Scale Exercise). To use this scenario, gather
staff members from various roles (administration, teachers, office
staff) in a room and give them the scenario (but not beforehand, so as
to simulate the surprise of a real crisis). The team then talks through
the various steps that would be taken in response to this incident. If
any outside agencies would be called or involved, contact them and
ensure that their response will be able to meet your expectations.
During a Full Scale exercise (the last step in the testing process,
which FEMA recommends 12-18 months of pre-preplanning) these outside
agencies would preferably be directly involved in the exercise in real

News Briefs

Midland, MI – March 7, 2007
A 17 year old male committed suicide in a school parking lot after shooting his 17 year old girlfriend (a student at the school) four times. He reportedly came to the school to speak with her but was turned away by school staff. The girl’s mother had driven her to the school after the male convinced her to meet him there. Her condition is listed as unknown.
Source: WXYZ Action News Detroit

Greenville, TX – March 7, 2007 – A male student committed suicide by shooting himself in front of several other students shortly before classes started at Greenville HS. While this is truly a tragic incident, the school district can be applauded for having a strong recovery plan in place, since the school was able to remain in session for the remainder of the day. While this may seem insensitive to the death of the student, it is necessary for the recovery process, and more importantly, as stated by the superintendent: “We cannot service children if they are not with us.” The school did allow any parents who wished to pick up their children to do so, but with trained counselors and procedures in place to deal with such a situation, it is definately more effective to keep students than sending them to an often empty home for the rest of the day.
Source: Fox 11

Los Angeles, CA – March 8, 2007 – A male 11th grader at Centennial High in Compton was shot in the left elbow after an altercation with non-students in a common area of campus. The incident occurred about an hour after dismissal, and the injury was listed as minor.

Littleton, CO – March 8, 2007- Roughly six weeks before the eighth anniversary of the shooting at Columbine HS, the school has been the victim of a series of bomb threats by an unknown caller. School was closed after the threats, and the park next to the school that was being used as the evacuation site was evacuated as well.
Source: Fox 21 News Colorado Springs

Cheshire, England – A 70 year old woman and her daughter were killed after being hit by a school bus while crossing the road. In addition to the tragic deaths and the disruption to the school, the mental trauma of the student witnesses is a major concern of officials involved in the case.
Source: BBC News Online

Lawrence, IN – March 10, 2007- In a still unxeplained accident, a four door sedan collided with a school bus, leaving the driver of the car in critical condition and nine students with minor injuries.
Source: WISH TV (Indianapolis)

March 12, 2007- Several states including Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina & Arkansas are enacting laws intended to address the issue of bullying & cyber-bullying. The political interest in the topic has been heavily driven by family members & other advocates of those who have been driven to suicide by intensive face-to-face and online bullying.
Source: The Rochester Post-Bulliten

Free Resources

This month we are featuring a guide with tips on when to call an ambulance from Markel Insurance Company. While the article refers to examples from camps rather than schools, the same concepts apply and can be helpful when deciding how to deal with minor medical emergencies on campus.


Thank you for reading The Safety Net. If you have any comments or suggestions please let us know.

All content copyright 2007 Safe Havens International. Any unauthorized reproduction is forbidden. For reprint permission contact

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issue will feature articles on school safety, regular columns on safety hazards and drug
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Featured product of the Month:

Innocent Targets: When Terrorism Comes to School (2005)

A rational approach to the problem of terrorism that affects our schools, this book has been distributed to public safety and emergency management officials in Canada, England, Holland and every U.S. state and territory.

Enter coupon code innocenttargetsTSN for 15% off of the regular price! (Valid until 12/1/07)

Copyright © 2006 Safe Havens International. All Rights Reserved.