Everything happens for a reason. It’s cliché I know, but it rings so true. My friend Heidi Bayer lives in Brooklyn New York, and blogs at Brooklyn Allergy Mom. I first got to meet Heidi at the first Mylan Summit over a year ago. When Hurricane Sandy caused so much devastation to NYC and New Jersey, she saw first hand how people with restricted diets are limited, forgotten, and face hardship in receiving safe food donations in times of need. It prompted her into action, and boy does she have a plan! Heidi created the AAFA/KFA Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Readiness Committee. When Heidi asked me to join her on the committee, I said yes!
Actually, I said- “Uhm.. What exactly is involved?” Because I am a planner, and list maker, and I need facts. Heidi explained that the goal was to have representatives in each state who could be contact people in the event of an emergency. Their purpose would be to reach out to their networks to get safe food donations sent in times of emergency, know where to ship food, what could be received, and have means to distribute the goods. To be effective, these relationships need to be established and set up BEFORE you actually need them- in order to really be most effective.
My first step was to call the Good Shepard Food Bank, established in the state of Maine in 1981. Today the Food Bank partners with over 600 food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and other assistance programs in every county in the state. In speaking to them, they suggested I reach out to VOAD~ The Maine chapter of the National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters. The VOAD group is active in disaster response throughout the state of Maine.
“The VOADs role is to bring organizations together and enable them to understand each other and work together during times of disaster preparedness, response, relief and recovery. The Maine VOAD adhere to the principles established by the National VOAD. The principles are referred to as the 4C’s:
These principles serve as the foundation for the Maine VOAD as it collaborates with local, regional and national partners to coordinate disaster relief, response and recovery efforts in times of disaster. “
I contacted the gentlemen at VOAD and explained who I was and what I was trying to do. I wanted to have it set up so that if there was a need in our state- they could notify me. I could then notify my social network with information of what was needed, and where to ship it to. VOAD would be able to receive the shipments of food, be it a small package or a pallet, and distribute it to the areas and people in need. I was then invited to meet with them at an upcoming event- the Maine Partners in Emergency Preparedness Conference, an annual conference held Augusta, our state capital. I had never heard of this conference so was really excited to see the agenda included an entire track of lectures about School Safety.
I went to the conference and met with the folks from VOAD as well as a gal from the Red Cross, and we will be having a meeting or group conference call to finalize the information and networking to aide in the event of a future state emergency. I then went and attended morning sessions on School Safety which ties in perfectly with my work on our school board, and the issues and work we are assessing and working to improve.
I attended “An assessment of Maine’s School Safety, Security, Climate, Culture, and Emergency Preparedness” Presented by Jim Rier, Lyndon Keck and Michael Dorn. This workshop provided attendees with a summary of findings from the statewide school safety assessment that was completed this January. Followed by a group Q & A session on the material covered.
My notes from the sessions I attended pertain to how schools prepare for emergencies. All schools have Emergency plans for example how to put out an electrical fire, as well as how to handle allergic reactions, and the public is entitled to see a copy of these. I will state- Food Allergy reactions factor in with this planning- if you consider where your child’s medications are- especially if there is a lock down or an evacuation. ALso keep in mind that 88% of food allergy deaths show a delay or a failure- to administer epinephrine!
My notes are as follows:
ALL exterior doors numbers with 12 inch high letters, exterior numbers of rooms on windows. Know where will first responders arrive?
Emergency responders work w/ front office admin, asst principals Especially-custodians!
Evidence assessment based research for Emergency prep
Using fear -has negative effect on children and educators
Overuse of fire drills- caused delay in 1958 of evacuation prior to fire alarm- Still an issue today- [How many should we be doing?-about 4- the rest are different emergency situational drills]
Do student, staff, & parent surveys- what do they show?- bullying, gang activity, drugs, weapons?, Don’t Guess- Assess!!
Safe Haven International- does assessments- (Maine has a high rate of assessments done)-
GIS mapping- of HS- mapping and training how to supervise- [where bullying was occurring]
Collect and review Incident data- type of incident, time, location,
Red Team assessment- metal detectors, cameras etc- Still have issues- buzzer access, photo ids- etc- 39 schools, 8 days-(evaluator/ Michael Dorn) breached schools, showed gaps in security, access & control -was able to access and steal- rat poison, axes, a full cart of laptop computers, 2 john deere tractors, vehicles, personnel directory, and even children!, over 90% success w/in 5 mins of child abduction- on drills!! Use Proper Badging!!!
Pedophiles-!! a case where a pedophile signed out a girl multiple (6-8 ) times and sexually assaulted her then returned her to the school.
Kids- teach them to report if they see someone without a badge!
Teach ALL staff to speak up, notify, or do something if they see/recognize unsafe situations- like Propane tank near heaters- unlocked chemicals- unsafe projects, unlocked rooms- closets, etc [sexual assaults]!! Cases of students being raped in schools- [by other students!] injuries and deaths from Falls-
Don’t put kids/teachers names- on doors- (to deter in cases of abduction, revenge, assaults)
Don’t do: propping doors open, or roof access- kids risk of falling-
Remember Fire risks- not only endangers school staff, kids, but also community firefighters-
Subs need Keys- to be able to LOCK DOORS!
Does school have one switch shut off for all power-
Ask the expert- session- school prep, security:
Tell staff ahead of time- Go to classroom- or cafeteria- consideration of age of kids- then ask staff member- there is a fire- what should you do? Now do it! AEDs, exits, etc same format for all other drills- not old standard of timed drill- but thinking clearly- knowing the steps for the drills- under pressure- 1 emergency drill for each month in session- ? – 4 fire drills- then other types of drills- good relationships with local fire chiefs- to determine needed drills- Must strive to have plan of action in first 30 seconds of emergency situation-
Who should have access to School emergency drill plan- confidential vs non-confidential- school personnel only- [shut offs, etc-] parents can see public version- Duties of school boards- comprehensive schools emergency plan process for developing and updating, auditing- school admins, chain of command, strategies to communicate to parents- 2 versions of plans – copy of EOP- show a copy? [many unable to know where it is- exactly] Have prominent placement of public plans- not on laptop- have printed copy- have it ACCESSIBLE!
Drills- Do ALL staff feel EMPOWERED to call for a lockdown????
ALL Should have copies and knowledge of plans-
How to address early morning/afternoon drop off-pickups- After hours component to plans- athletic- school events- If hear gunshot- Call office 1st- to start lockdown- then 911- result in a delay in lockdowns because people call 911 1st- meanwhile suspect roams further into school setting- putting more people at risk.
Get local Police involved and fire dept- for drills-
Find ways to alleviate Fear for little kids- age appropriate drills- Build confidence not increase fears! [ex: show me 3 exits to the restaurant,]
If have wider hallways- put kids in double rows- side by side- decrease evac time by 30%- running is SLOWER!- Safety rope for preK /K kids-
Family consideration in emergencies- siblings-
Social Media!!!! Controlling social media in event of an emergency! (classic game of telephone-truth much different then the story) social media- “Get YOUR message out Early and Often!”
Medical lockdown- Parents rushing to the school- A MUST HAVE- is to have and remind/educate Families- A parent reunification plans for public and parents-
Exterior school windows- tinted/ vs non-tinted- police want non tinted- architects- tinting for glare and energy- put numbers in windows- DON’T MATCH THE ROOM NUMBERS!!!! Have a Different number- or code- [tinted- for gang related- high risk abduction- [think movie star kids- rich Heirs-]
Buses- campuses- mass casualty bus attacks- haven’t happened but high risk- driver training- to prevent and respond.
State does provide free software for student transportation- to track and respond to incidents- Have monitors/staff/adults- out where buses are dismissing- reduce risk of accidental run over/deaths
twitter- FB- GET your OWN message out- early and often!
Pattern recognition- students can recognize non-students- or staff- subtle assessments- [‘didn’t act like a parent’ – etc- pattern recognition-
Multiple buildings- transitions- recesses, portables, am/afternoon- best practice- get basics when easy- describe diff- scenarios- do drills- at other times- [special classes- library, art, lunch-] Best to have drills /teach reinforce thought patterns in emergency- to enable ‘doing’ Good to use Rescue Whistles- blow whistle- quiets large room- or recess- and will result in quicker reactions- [blow whistle- use/train with 2 word phrase- “Reverse Drill” – then action-]
Involving students in plan/observation- surprise metal detection, pattern recognition, –
good supervision, good observation, good discipline
iloveyouguys.org- parent reunification plan- Red Cross- also has social workers, fried counselors, etc available-
Have EOE plan to hand to emergency responders- [off duty, hears on radio/ state police-game wardens, etc]
COMMUNICATION of the Emergency Plans!
Keynote address: Michael Dorn
1st 30 seconds in an emergency- What is your plan?
Feel the elevated heartrate- adrenalin – How it effects our decision making process-[ example: student threatening to shoot himself]
WHAT works- in Emergency Prep?
63 ppl died from active shooter events- in last 15 years- Training in emergency prep- military expertise-
Protect YOUR SELF- 1st
Clear the room – CALL LOCKDOWN-
Safe Havens International- school assessments safehavensinternational.org
Discrimination in training- we are conditioned to react to 1 scenario- not multiple-
Empower ALL staff to Act & REACT!!!!
Reacting to late to emergency situations-
Mental Health piece-
A lot to protecting- where we fail- we need to listen, assess-
Training videos- click on the new book cover to assess-training videos- staff development
Learn to trust your instincts-
Protect your self, protect others, protect the place- notify public safety.
One with shutoff for power
Free resources- FEMA, DOE, CDC, Safe Havens international
Assess-Pattern Matching and recognition- Permission to live
Train all staff to locate- pull fire alarms- EMPOWER staff to spot and react to danger-
(see the forest for the trees) – fire- bombs, etc- repeating of history- shootings and fire- nationwide-
Connection to bullying can be overplayed- but CAN and IS a trigger-
Need to do Better job on sign ins and badges- !!! A guy signed out a girl 6 x sexually assaulted her and returned her); Another man signed in as “Pay Back”
Double rows- adult at back of line- always have kids in your line of sight.
Michael Dorn was a passionate and intriguing speaker- if you ever have the chance I highly recommend hearing him! He has a new book out about school safety called: Staying Alive: How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters; which covers much of the information from my notes, it also has free video training links you can access on his site.
I am proud to be Heidi’s Maine rep for her Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief Committee. Because of her organization, they were able to get food to five areas affected by disasters in the past year, Colorado, Illinois, Moore and Arkansas. You don’t need it- until you DO- and I am proud to be able to use my connections to help if I am called to action. (But here is hoping that day never comes!)