Everyone involved in the plan needs to know her or his roles and responsibilities before, during, and after an emergency. Key training components include the following:
At least once a year, hold a meeting to educate all parties on the plan. Go through the plan to familiarize these stakeholders with it.
Show involved parties not only where evacuation sites are located, but also where specific areas, such as reunification areas, media areas, and triage areas, will be located.
It may also be helpful to provide all parties with quick reference guides that remind them of key courses of action.
It is important that students and staff are familiar with and have easy access to information such as evacuation routes and shelter-in-place procedures and locations. Ensure that information concerning evacuation routes and shelter-in-place procedures and locations is effectively communicated to students, staff members, and parents with disabilities as well as others with access and functional needs, such as by distributing the materials by e-mail in an accessible format.
Bringing community partners (e.g., law enforcement officers, fire officials, and EMS personnel) that have a role into the school to talk about the plan will make students and staff members feel more comfortable working with these partners.
Staff members will be assigned specific roles in the plan and positions supporting the Incident Command System (ICS) that will require special skills, such as first aid, threat assessment, and provision of personal assistance services for students with disabilities, and others with access and functional needs. Also, substitute teachers must be trained on the plan and their roles in the plan.
The more a plan is practiced and stakeholders are trained on the plan, the more effectively they will be able to act before, during, and after an emergency to lessen the impact on life and property. Exercises provide opportunities to practice with community partners (e.g., first responders, local emergency management personnel), as well as to identify gaps and weaknesses in the plan. The exercises below require increasing amounts of planning, time, and resources. Ideally, schools will create an exercise program, building from a tabletop exercise up to a more advanced exercise, like a functional exercise:
Before making a decision about how many and which types of exercises to implement, a school should consider the costs and benefits of each, as well as any state or local requirements. For example, while a tabletop exercise may be less costly and less time-consuming to run, a full-scale exercise provides a more realistic context for the simulated response to an emergency situation, thus providing more constructive feedback to improve the plans. If students are involved, the school should also consider the age of the student population when selecting the appropriate exercise. Schools should also consider whether to include parents and should take into account the cultural diversity of their populations when designing exercises and training.
For additional information on conducting exercises, please see the Homeland Security Exercise and Evaluation Program Guide.
This step closes the loop in the planning process. It focuses on adding the information gained from exercising the plan to the research collected in Step 2, starting the planning cycle over again. Remember, planning is a continuous process even after the plan is published. Plans should evolve as the school and planning teams learn lessons, obtain new information and insights, and update priorities.
Reviews should be a recurring activity. Planning teams should establish a process for reviewing and revising the plan. Many schools review their plans annually. In no case should any part of a plan go for more than 2 years without being reviewed and revised.
Some schools have found it useful to review and revise portions instead of reviewing the entire plan at once. Schools may consider reviewing a portion each month or at natural breaks in the academic calendar. Certain events will also provide new information that will be used to inform the plan. Schools should consider reviewing and updating their plans or sections of their plans after
The planning team should ensure that all community partners (e.g., first responders, local emergency management staff) have the most current version of the school EOP.