For those of us working with children we all fear having the right answer to the question “do you have all the children accounted for?” Whether you are a parent, pre-school teacher, building principal or district superintendent you know that after a disaster strikes someone will ask you that question. In the middle of a quiet peaceful morning disaster struck whether by nature or man-made. The moments following were filled with chaos, sirens, first responders, parents, injured, smoke, people running, media arriving and within this chaos you are expected to EXACTLY know where every child is. Is that realistic? Is it even humanly possible?
In our quest to never have to answer that question with a stuttering “no” do we sometimes try to over engineer and manage our emergency plans? And in doing so, have we saddled our school, daycare center or place of worship with a process that will actually hurt people and not help them? With the most righteous of motives have we limited people’s options and ability to survive the disaster in the name of being able to account for them. “Stay here, don’t move!”, “Don’t do anything until I make an announcement.” Is that really a fair request when the world is erupting all around them?
Here are a few things to consider about this tough conversation:
- Are you really in charge when disaster strikes or is the disaster in charge? Whether it’s a violent intruder or a tornado can we really claim management of the situation while it rips through our building?
- Real management occurs in the prevention, preparedness and response pieces of emergency planning.
- Your expectation of immediate 100% accountability is not realistic in the minutes following the disaster. You are only human. Maybe you are not even there. Ever take a personal day, attend a conference, have an off-site meeting? Don’t build a plan that relies upon you managing it. Educate and equip your staff and students and give them the best chance possible of surviving.
- In the hours that follow 100% accoountability will be obtained. With solid preparedness measurers there is little doubt than many more lives will be spared when you give your school the tools to survive.
If you would like to talk more about this or other safety and security topics I would love to speak with you. Until then, this is John Baker for Safetysolutions4schools.com.
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