“Do you have five minutes once a month” was my answer. “It’s not optimal but it is better than doing nothing. If you can commit five minutes per month to a simple drill strategy I think I can help.” This answer usually comes out when I’m speaking to a building administrator that shares:
“There isn’t any time to do all hazards drills, we have testing coming up and our scores need to improve!”
These are good people with every intention of taking all hazards preparedness seriously but there simply is not enough time in the school day given all the other priorities and mandates placed on schools today.
I call this simple drill the STAY IN PLACE BUILDING WIDE DRILL. It works for any type of hazard you want to stimulate your staff and students to consider. Here is how it works:
- The first time you do this practice just with your staff. Maybe on an in-service day. Brief them ahead of time as to what is expected.
- Keep the scenario simple and concise.
- Make a building wide announcement similar to “MAY I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION PLEASE. THIS IS A DRILL, THIS IS A DRILL. WE HAVE INFORMATION THAT THERE HAS BEEN A CHEMICAL SPILL IN THE CHEMISTRY LAB. FIRE AND AMBULANCES ARE RESPONDING WITH REPORTS OF SEVERAL STAFF AND STUDENTS BECOMING ILL DUE TO THE FUMES. AT THIS TIME TALK TO WHOMEVER YOU ARE WITH ABOUT HOW YOU WOULD RESPOND TO THIS SCENARIO AND WHAT STEPS YOU WOULD TAKE. WE WILL RESUME OUR NORMAL SCHEDULE IN A FEW MINUTES.”
- Instruct your staff to briefly discuss how they would respond to this scenario with their class, fellow staff members, building visitors or consider how they would respond individually if they are alone.
- Ask your staff to submit a brief response to the scenario either by filling out a questionnaire on a ½ page of paper or create an electronic version. Include items such as your location, number of people you were with, what the group decided to do and issues that require follow-up.
- After five minutes make a second announcement “WE WILL NOW RETURN TO OUR NORMAL SCHEDULE.”
- During your next staff meeting discuss your findings. Consider a random drawing for everyone who responded to the questionnaire and celebrate the innovative responses staff and students come up with or the issues that need further follow-up...better to find out now instead of when a real emergency strikes!
This drill works great for all types of hazards including fires, HAZMAT, violent intruders, utility failures, structural failures, weather related events and on and on.
By conducting this simple drill every month before long your staff and students will become accustomed to thinking about how to respond to a variety of hazards. Be sure to vary the day and time of the drills in order to catch people at different locations across the school campus. Now commit yourself to doing it and see how just five minutes per month can really change your schools level of preparedness.
This is John Baker for safetysolutions4schools.com. Image courtesy of www.mykindofparenting.com.
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