Have You Developed An Annual School Safety Drill Schedule?
We all are aware of the national mandate for schools to conduct one fire drill per month or a certain number of drills to be conducted within one school year. Many states further require schools to add natural disaster drills or bomb threat drills to their safety drill schedule.
Many states do not mandate any further drilling for such critical incidents. We at Guardian Defense believe in the importance of training for all types of emergencies. I have composed a basic recommended safety drill schedule for the school year.
Implement Safety Drills Throughout the Year
It is important to prepare and train for all serious incidents that could affect your school. The United States has not had a student death caused by a fire since 1958. We need to revisit drilling and training for our schools and allow a variety of drills to take place throughout the year.
Guardian Defense recommends that schools include local police and fire departments to ensure a good working relationship. This idea can be as simple as contacting your local police department before you conduct a lockdown drill to inform them the school will be on lockdown for training purposes
Our Recommended Annual School Safety Drill Schedule
|Annual School Safety Drill Schedule
|Month #1= Evacuation
Month #2= Lock-Down and Evacuation
Month #3= HOLD and Evacuation
Month #4= Lock-Down and HOLD
Month #5= Evacuation
Month #6= Lock-Down to a HOLD and Evacuation
Month #7= HOLD to an Evacuation
Month #8= Evacuation to a Lock-Down
Month #9= Evacuation
Month #10= Challenge Drill (Any drill conducted during a vulnerable time. An Evacuation Drill should occur if it was not chosen as the Challenge Drill) and Evacuation
Taking into consideration what types of drills need to be practiced and who should be in attendance, please review this recommended schedule for ways to organize your school’s annual drill schedule.
Please note, in order to accomplish a comprehensive drill schedule there will need to be months that include two drills or a combination of drills. Each school should also conduct a “Challenge Drill” towards the end of the school year. This will encourage staff to make independent decisions based on the drilling they have experienced throughout the year.
The overall goal for a “Challenge Drill” is to challenge and empower staff to become more independent responders and planners for critical incidents.
By practicing a variety of drills throughout the school year, staff will build confidence and improve their response.
What Is A Challenge Drill? Is Our School Ready For One?
In order to add a “Challenge Drill” to your safety drill schedule, school leadership needs to determine what emergency they wish to focus on and identify what challenges they want to present to the school. The challenge will help evaluate how the school progressed throughout the year, and in turn help decipher how to create the training calendar for the next school year.
An example for any emergency is to challenge the school during a vulnerable time, like recess or lunchtime. Leadership should not conduct the drill without first providing the teachers and staff with training and options if presented with an emergency during a vulnerable time. Remember, any drills, whether a scheduled monthly drill or challenge drill should be pre-planned and have a goal for all teachers and staff to feel confident at the end! Leaving teachers and staff feeling like they have failed is not the objective during any drills.
Any failures are a result of leadership not preparing them properly!
The Importance of Drill Logs and Debriefing
School leadership should log each drill and complete a debriefing throughout the year. This is very important in order to evaluate drill success and determine which aspects need more work.
In the event of an actual incident, please use an After-Action Report (AAR) to log the information and also follow with a debrief. Debriefs, drill logs and AAR are crucial in evaluating the overall strengths and weaknesses of the safety plan, as they allow honest dialogue between administration and staff.
Recognize that a debrief with all staff may not be possible after each drill. To combat time restraints, you can email a short form to each staff in some instances, or the debrief can take place between administration and law enforcement. No matter how the debrief takes place, it is vital that it is recorded on the drill logs and AAR.
Guardian Defense knows that administrators and teachers work incredibly hard to not only educate our youth, but to keep them safe. Just like education techniques, security measures and practices are constantly evolving. You should have a plan, and then practice for maximum preparedness. To learn more about how we can transform the way your school responds to active threats on campus, click here.
We wish each school a safe and successful academic year!
Stay safe, stay prepared,
– Steven S. Smith