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- one of which is safety. Whether you’re a new administrator tasked with safety planning or a seasoned professional in the field, utilize the prerequisites listed below to make sure you cover all of your bases when developing lockdown drill procedures.

Lockdown Drill Procedures: 8 Prerequisites for Administrators and Safety Team

#1: Develop an Annual Schedule of Drills

#2: Include Local Law Enforcement in your Drills

  • INVITE LOCAL POLICE to attend the drills
  • Ask them to observe, participate and offer feedback on the outcome of the drill.
  • Unable to be there this time? Ask your local police to participate another time.

#3: Start Basic with Announced Drills

  • START WITH ANNOUNCED DRILLS (administrators inform staff in advance).
  • Then proceed to unannounced drills throughout the school year (They have no warning or limited advance notice, such as informing that a drill may occur between a specified period of time.)
  • FIRST DRILL: Train staff on the necessary action prior to the drill.
  • DRILL PRIOR TO DRILL: For schools, teachers should hold age-appropriate conversations with their students.
  • When starting the drill, inform the staff through the most common form of communication for that school, such as a loudspeaker.

“For schools and workplaces that 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.”

#4: Practice BOTH: Emergency and Non-Emergency Lockdown Drills

  • Both emergency lockdown drills and non-emergency lockdown drills have the SAME IMPORTANCE.
  • Practice emergency lockdown drills to prepare for an intruder or threat is ON CAMPUS.
  • Practice non-emergency lockdown drills to prepare for a threat that is OFF CAMPUS, but close enough to pose a possible threat to the campus.
  • Non-emergency lockdown drills are also referred to as “Hold drills,” “lockout drills,” or “standard lockdowns”.

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

#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).
    • First Drill: Announced through the typical means of communication, such as a loudspeaker.
      • EXAMPLE: “This is an emergency lockdown drill. Please follow procedures for the emergency lockdown drill. Repeat, this is a drill.”
    • Second Drill: Can be announced in a different way. Such as by a staff member in a hallway, using the same announcement as above.
  • UNANNOUNCED DRILLS: Both of the above methods for enacting the drill can be used as well.

“It is important not to proceed to other types of drills until staff and students are comfortable with practicing your most basic Lockdown drill.” 

#6: Always Inform Law Enforcement

  • If your local police department is unable to participate in the drill, CALL THEM BEFORE YOU START and inform them of the drill.

#7: Documentation is Key!

  • DOCUMENT DRILL DETAILS in a log (include the things that went well, as well as areas for improvement).
  • Documentation may help protect your organization legally in the future.

#8: Debrief Your Staff Every Time

  • Debrief your safety team and all staff in FACE-TO-FACE MEETINGS.
  • If face-to-face meetings are not possible, utilize other forms of communications such as emails and surveys.
  • Staff should have the opportunity to express their thoughts.
  • Implement changes that need to be made to equipment and safety features in the building.

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

Special Considerations:

We recommend that 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 is a work in progress. Procedures will need to be changed, revised and updated. Establishing a set of prerequisites before moving forward with implementing the first drill is the 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.