lockdown drill procedures


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 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 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).
  • 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 and share what is expected of them before running a school-wide drill.
  • When starting the drill, notify staff through all forms of communication such as a loudspeaker.
  • Proceed to unannounced drills at the end of the school year ONLY if staff and students have demonstrated a clear understanding of what is expected of them during a drill.

“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 Lockdown and Hold Drills

  • Both Lockdown drills and Hold drills have the SAME IMPORTANCE.
  • Practice Lockdown drills to prepare when an intruder or threat is ON CAMPUS.
  • Practice Hold drills to prepare when a threat is OFF CAMPUS, but close enough to pose a possible threat to the campus.
  • Hold drills are sometimes also referred to as “Lockout drills” or “Standard Lockdown drills” or “Non-emergency Lockdown drills.”

“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

  • Do not proceed to other types of drills until staff and students are comfortable with practicing your most basic drill in different situations.
  • When conducting proceeding drills, ALTER THE SITUATION so that it is different from the last. (If the previous drill did not run smoothly, repeat that drill until completed to satisfaction).

#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 things that went well, areas for improvement, equipment fixes, etc.).
  • Documentation may help protect your organization legally in the future.

#8: Debrief Your Staff Every Time

  • Debrief your safety team and all staff in a FACE-TO-FACE MEETING.
  • 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 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.

A training model like Guardian Defense’s Active Threat Response Program will decrease anxiousness staff may experience when thinking about this topic. Guardian Defense also recommends the development of a safety team rather than just one individual in charge of implementing the Lockdown drill procedures. The head of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), school psychologist, or a related professional may be a helpful addition to the safety team for those staff who seek their guidance during the training process.

Training models should also include considerations for children and adults with mental and/or physical special needs or limitations.


Integrating Lockdown drill procedures and school safety drills is a work in progress. Procedures will need to be revised and updated annually. Establish the safety team first, and then utilize this set of critical prerequisites before implementing any drills. Having a safety team allows more than one person to be responsible for this task and allows employees to have a role in the well-being of themselves and their colleagues.

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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.