lockdown drill procedures

Lockdown Drill Procedures: 8 Prerequisites for Administrators

Why do you need lockdown drill procedures? Administrators at schools and in the workplace have many things to oversee- not just for academics and enrichment, but also for safety. Whether you’re a new administrator tasked with safety planning or a seasoned professional in the field, implement the prerequisites listed below to make sure you are covering all of your bases when developing lockdown drill procedures.

Lockdown Drill Procedures: 8 Prerequisites for Administrators and Safety Team

Drill Prerequisite #1: Develop an Annual Schedule of Drills for the Year

  • Administrators must plan in advance and develop their drill schedule for the year. 
  • For schools, please read our Recommended Annual School Drill Schedule for ways to set up your safety drill schedule that will encompass all school drills.

Drill Prerequisite #2: Include Local Law Enforcement in your Drills

  • Invite your local police department to attend some or all of the drills, if possible.
  • Most police departments are willing to attend the drills to observe, participate and offer feedback on the outcome of the drill. Keep in mind some police departments may have shortages on staff at times. If they are unable to be there for one, try them again next time.

Drill Prerequisite #3: Start Basic with Announced Drills, Then Proceed to Unannounced Drills

  • Start with announced drills and then proceed to unannounced drills throughout the school year.

“For schools and workplaces who have not practiced drills at all, or for a long period of time, it is highly recommended to start with an announced drill. The idea is to create confidence, not discouragement or failure.”

  • Announced drills are drills in which staff are informed in advance. Administrators can inform staff anywhere between a week before, to the morning of, the scheduled drill.
  • For the first drill, staff should have already received training on the action they should take in their workspace. For schools, teachers should have already held age-appropriate conversations with their students about the drill. 
  • When starting the drill, inform the staff through the most common form of communication for that school, such as a loudspeaker.
  • Unannounced drills are drills that have no warning. Or, administration communicated that a drill will be coming within a certain time period, without exact time or date.
  • Staff are prompted to act by hearing or seeing signs of a drill, such as an announcement on the loudspeaker or observing a co-worker taking action.

Drill Prerequisite #4: Importance of BOTH Emergency and Non-Emergency Lockdown Drills

  • Practice both emergency lockdown drills and non-emergency lockdown drills in order to best prepare your workplace.
  • Emergency lockdown drills are practiced in the event of an intruder or threat ON campus.
  • Non-emergency lockdown drills are practiced to prepare for a threat that is OFF, but close to, campus, and that could potentially pose a threat to the campus. An example of this is a police perimeter that is set up close to the school in order to catch a perpetrator.
  • Non-emergency lockdown drills are also referred to as “lockout drills” or “standard lockdowns”.

“When staff are in a non-emergency lockdown position during a threat, they are capable of moving to an emergency lockdown position much quicker should the threat move on-site.”

Drill Prerequisite #5: When Staff are Ready, Vary the Facilitation of Each Drill

  • When conducting proceeding drills, alter the situation so that it is different from the last.
  • In the instance of practicing an announced emergency drill, the first drill should be announced by the typical form of communication, such as a loudspeaker. For example: “This is an emergency lockdown drill. Please follow procedures for the emergency lockdown drill. Repeat, this is a drill.”
  • The second time an announced emergency drill is practiced, it can be facilitated by an appointee verbalizing the drill from the hallway and using the same announcement as above.
  • These two examples could also be used for unannounced emergency drills.
  • It is important not to proceed to other types of drills until staff and students are comfortable with practicing your most basic drill.

Drill Prerequisite #6: Always Inform Law Enforcement BEFORE and AFTER a Drill

  • If your local police department is unable to participate in the drill, call them before you start and inform them of the drill.
  • Don’t forget to call them after the drill to let them know it is completed.

Drill Prerequisite #7: Documentation is Key!

  • Complete a log documenting the details of the drill.
  • Remember to include the things that went well in the log, as well as areas for improvement.
  • Documentation of the drills will help administrators remember what needs to be continued and changed for the next drill.
  • It will also be helpful to look back to for next year’s planning.
  • Documentation of the drills may help protect your organization legally in the future.

Drill Prerequisite #8: Debrief With Your Staff Every Time

  • Debrief with your safety team and all staff in face-to-face meetings.
  • If face-to-face meetings are not always possible, utilize other forms of communications via emails and surveys.
  • Allow staff the opportunity to express their thoughts. Provide opportunities to share both positives and opportunities to improve the drill.
  • Implement changes that need to be made with equipment and safety features in the building.
  • Put into place newly formed ideas and areas to improve upon.

“Make sure to validate staff ideas by making a plan to put them in place. All debriefs should include what has worked well and staff should be praised for their efforts.”


Special Considerations: Guardian Defense recommends staff participate in an active shooter training course for your school or for your workplace in order to fully benefit from lockdown drills. The active shooter training will decrease anxiety that staff may experience. Guardian Defense also recommends the development of a safety team rather than just one individual in charge of implementing the lockdown drill procedures. A school psychologist or related professional may be a helpful addition to the safety team for staff seeking their guidance.



Integrating lockdown drill procedures and school safety drills are a work in progress. There will always be things that need to be changed, revised and updated. Establishing a set of prerequisites before moving forward with implementing the first drill is key to a solid safety plan.  Administrators should work with their safety team and security administrators with whom they can share the responsibility of this task.

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About Steven S. Smith

Steven S. Smith, the President and Founder of Guardian Defense, offers active shooter training programs to staff within schools, colleges, churches, law enforcement agencies, businesses, and hospitals; in order to build confidence and save time in the event of an intruder, active shooter or killer, or other terror attack. Mr. Smith is a current certified law enforcement officer and has a range of experience on school and public safety, and investigation work. He is currently a team leader and instructor on the SWAT Team, for which he joined in 2009. Mr. Smith graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, with a concentration in Criminal Justice, in 2005 from Nova Southeastern University.