Having a safe school protocol is crucial for any emergency that takes place on school grounds. One reason why a Standard Response Protocol (SRP) works is that it’s a shared language that is understood by all law enforcement and first responders. To allow for a quick and efficient response, you need to have a reunification plan set in place. Student reunification is a systemic process used by K-12 schools and districts to effectively reunite students with their parents and guardians during a crisis.
There are five actions you can take during an incident:
- HOLD “In Your Room or Area”
- SECURE “Get Inside. Lock Outside Doors”
- LOCKDOWN “Locks, Lights, Out of Sight”
- EVACUATE ” Location Change In or Out of the Building”
- SHELTER “Hazard and Safety Strategy Explained.”
In a video posted on The “I Love U Guys” Foundation website, titled ‘Municipal Training Video: Standard Response Protocol’ Murphy Robinson stated, “70% of emergencies are over in 5 minutes.” However, within those 5 minutes, it’s helpful to know that each individual on campus is at their designated area. Additionally, keep in mind this is an evolving process. A planned and practiced response is the foundation of a safe community.
Let’s establish muscle memory by looking at the 5 SRP action steps from a broad stance point, starting with the first action, Hold.
An example of when a Hold might be called is when a medical emergency requires hallways and/or any open space to remain quiet and clear when emergency personnel is in the area. When Hold is implemented, you are meant to stay in place or return to the designated area that is assigned to you.
Next, we have Secure.
A Secure is called when a threat or risk is outside of the building. When this step is initiated, all staff and students are brought inside the building, to avoid outside danger. It’s important to have a staff member tasked with the responsibility and assigned to each secure zone to monitor the area.
Third, we go to Lockdown.
The moment that a Lockdown is called means there is an immediate threat or hazard inside of the building. This means the focus now needs to shift to how you and the people around you can get to a sealed safe place, where you should remain quiet, with the doors locked, lights turned off, and out of sight until emergency personnel give the okay that it is now safe to come out. During this time, both students and staff can communicate through MySchool iD (MSID) to keep in touch with students and other staff members, as well as mark themselves safe or in need of help. This will potentially reduce the time it would take to search for everyone on campus and allow more time to reunite students with their parents.
Now, is the move to Evacuate.
Immediately upon evacuating, becoming invisible and unseen is necessary when moving from one place to another. The main component is remaining as calm as possible and listening to the emergency personnel as they direct you to the reunification point. Before being reunited, students will need to be accounted for by your team. Instead of using a paper and pencil method of checking in students, you can use iVisitor Management (iVM). By scanning the student’s ID badge it will document the time of check-in and check-out for when the child reaches the site to when the child is released to a guardian/ parent.
Finally, is Shelter.
After the evacuation action is completed, we can safely move into the Shelter action, where all the grouped occupants have been transferred to a designated protection area far away from the hazards. While emergency personnel are addressing the immediate threat, the process of recovery can begin. When adults initially arrive to retrieve their children, the student reunification team can assist them by utilizing iVisitor Management to scan the parent/guardian’s ID and select the student(s) name(s). You can request their signature and a photograph (optional). All information tracked during reunification automatically updates your reports in real-time, which can be located in the School Manager. These reports can be viewed on a laptop, tablet, or cell phone, and are easy to share with other team members and parents if requested.
We all can agree that a planned and uniform response is the key to resolving any emergency; which is why it is important to practice such a response before an actual emergency transpires. While it can’t be determined what will really occur in the event of an incident, it’s good to know the steps to take to ensure the best outcome is a success. Across the country, the improvement of school safety, no matter the situation, is a top priority.
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