The Safety Net – Volume 1, Issue 3 (May 2009)

Safe Havens International – The Safety Net Newsletter



_ Safe Havens International Presents . . .

The Safety Net 

Issue 3 Volume 1; May 2009  

In this Issue:

Effective Crisis Response Teams
by Michael Dorn

Evacuation Tips for Schools and Childcare Facilities
by Sonayia Shepherd

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

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

News Briefs

Free Resources

Don’t forget to give us suggestions or tell us what you’d like to see covered in an upcoming edition. If you would like to recommend this newsletter to a friend please tell them to sign up using our newsletter signup form.

If you haven’t seen them already, take a look at our video blogs. Each blog spends a few minutes exploring topics of common concern to campuses. Below is one covering Emergency Evacuation Kits for Schools:

If you are connected to the internet but cannot see the video, you can access it here.

To view our other blogs, visit our video blog page. To view all of our blogs and other videos, subscribe to our channel on youtube.



Effective Crisis Response Teams
By Michael Dorn,
Safe Havens International



This is an abbreviated version of the full article, which was taken from the collection “Let None Learn in Fear” by Michael Dorn. Click here for a free PDF download of this 205 page eBook. For the full text of this article see pages 189-191.


Emergency Preparedness Checklist for Schools
By Sonayia Shepherd, Chief Executive Officer, Safe Havens International, Inc.

The following list should help you assess your preparedness for disasters, natural as well as man-made:

  1. Do you have a disaster preparedness plan?
  2. Have you done a threat assessment analysis to determine vulnerability to deliberate acts against your campus?
  3. Have you instituted plans to assess structural hazards? Non-structural hazards?
  4. Do you have an evacuation plan? If so, do you review this plan periodically to ensure its worthiness?
  5. Are students, faculty and staff within your organization familiar with your evacuation plan? Are new hires made aware of it as part of the orientation?
  6. In the event of an evacuation, have you determined building functions to be turned off and designated staff to do so?
  7. Do you have at least one staff member in every work location able to administer first-aid and CPR?
  8. Have you designated crisis teams to assist in disasters?
  9. Have you designated a disaster recovery team to manage the situation during and after the event?
  10. Do your faculty and staff know locations of designated sites in your community for first aid after disasters?
  11. Have you designated criteria for evacuation?
  12. How will staff be notified of evacuation?
  13. Is there a system for tracking who has been evacuated and who still remains in the building?
  14. Does the school maintain daily records of visitors, in addition to staff, in the building?
  15. Have you done a full-scale exercise of your evacuation plan?
  16. Have you set up communication lines to stay in touch with faculty and staff after evacuation?
  17. Do employees and students know the consequences—from termination to imprisonment—of calling in false bomb threats and other messages designed to halt classes and inflict terror?
  18. Depending on the cause of an evacuation, have you plans that cover review of premises after the fact to ensure they are safe for re-occupation?
  19. Have you in place a program to help students, faculty and staff address the emotional response to the hazardous situation?

If you have answered no to any of the questions, you need plans developed.  We can help. Call our consultants.  Don’t delay – our children deserve no less!

For more information on four phase all hazards planning, see our article on the subject.





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

Each month we will feature a photo illustrating a hazard and how to fix it or a positive example of ways to improve your school’s safety and environment.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Fire hazard

Answer: The items hanging from the ceiling are in violation of the fire code.  If these articles were to catch fire, they might cause the flames to burn through the ceiling tiles and allow the fire to spread throughout the structure.  There is also too much clutter in the room for a safe and orderly emergency evacuation, and items are stacked in a dangerous manner, particularly since the room serves small children. While we can appreciate this teacher’s creativity in making the classroom a welcoming environment, we must always consider the safety implications of our actions.

For examples and training on how to conduct a Site Survey of your facility, check out the Tactical Site Survey Power Point slide show in our Free Resources section. While our examples are taken from schools, it is not hard to find applications for this technique in any 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.

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.

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 time.

Student Committing Suicide in Front of School
(High school level)

It is Monday during the first week of school, as students are arriving for the day, a male student exits his vehicle in the parking lot, goes to the trunk of his car and removes a shotgun.  While a dozen astonished students watch, he places the butt stock of the gun on the ground, inserts a long stick in the trigger guard, places the muzzle of the weapon in his mouth and steps on the stick, discharging the weapon.  The scene is gory as there is severe trauma to his head and students instantly become very upset.  By the time the first school official arrives at the site, a dozen more students have arrived and are approaching the group of distraught students who are standing around the body.

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.

News Briefs 

Atlanta, Georgia A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit of a high school student who was suspended for 10 days after bringing to school a story she had written about a dream in which a student shoots her 6th period math teacher. The student, who also happens to take math during 6th period, was initially expelled before her sentence was reduced to 10 days of suspension. The U.S. District Judge in the case determined that the writings were “sufficiently disturbing” and supported the school’s actions. Source: CNN, Associated Press 8/3/06

Beijing, China –More than 200 primary school students were hospitalized in the most recent of 185 food poisoning cases since June. The high frequency of incidents is due to lax food preparation supervision, which allows contractors to cut costs but has resulted in thousands of cases of food poisoning this year. The latest case, which filled three floors of a local hospital, was the result of a lunch served on Friday. Students began having symptoms over the weekend including headache, fever, diarrhea and vomiting, but none of the cases were fatal. Like similar cases in the United States that we see occur every year, this illustrates the need for increased food safety and supervision, a measure that not only protects against food poisoning and contamination but against malicious acts by disgruntled students or terrorists. Source: CNN 9/03/06

Free Resources

This month we are featuring our grant resources page. This page features our Grantwriting FAQs and tips, a list of suggested grants for schools working to improve safety, as well as links to other sites with helpful information on grants and finding money for safety.

Our Grant Resources Page

All content copyright 2009 Safe Havens International. Any unauthorized reproduction is forbidden. For reprint permission contact

The Safety Net is a free e-newsletter designed to help you build a safety net to make your schools safety & more inviting for all students and staff members.

Each issue will feature articles, regular columns on safety hazards and drug abuse, helpful tips and free resources to aid you as an advocate for the children.For info on having your writing featured in The Safety Net please contact us. For more information about Safe Havens International (publisher of The Safety Net) click here.


















Featured product of the Month:

Jane’s Safe Schools Planning Guide
for All Hazards
by Michael Dorn, Sonayia Shepherd, Greg Thomas and Marleen Wong
(2004, 450 pages)

Jane’s Safe Schools Planning Guide for All Hazards is a textbook-sized reference for school planners tasked with designing, implementing and maintaining a safe school plan.

Contents include:

– Safe school standards, roles and responsibilities

– Prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery strategy development

-Characteristics of violent youth

-Vulnerability and threat assessments for schools

-Training, education, evaluation and exercises

-Developing contact lists

-Disaster planning

-Preparing for and managing stress