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Many of us can think back to our first semester at college. On move-in day, we met the Residential Assistant in our dorm, walked the path to each class we were to attend, and made sure we could locate the mess hall. We did all of those things to reduce the stress and anxiety we knew we would already be facing on our first day of classes after moving away from home and knowing practically no one. We prepared for all the things we would anticipate going wrong.
Although this example serves as a meaningful moment in our lives, it does not compare to the stress and anxiety of responding to an emergency- especially when you are partially or fully responsible for the outcome. Knowing this, every move and action must be predetermined and pre-planned for success - similarly to our first semester away at college - to help you keep your cool and respond effectively when it matters most.
Leveraging all of the technology your organization has implemented (emergency notification systems, digital signage, desktop pop up alerts, PA systems, etc.) during an emergency is one piece of this puzzle. And you have your policies developed and procedures defined for each anticipated emergency. But have you outlined who owns which process? Who will do what, when? Orchestrating your people is another factor that carries significance I cannot put into words.
Download Critical Mass Magazine to read the Insight Avoiding Chaos in an Emergency for guidance on establishing ownership from Campus Security Consultant S. Daniel Carter.
Although everything may be set and your actions outlined, you must also determine who owns what step and which action item for each response. If not, you could increase response time, duplicate efforts, experience confusion and frustration (in turn clouding judgement), and maybe even overlook a step in the process. An oversight that can be avoided by spelling out every step of your emergency response: the what, the where, the when - and the who.
No organization wants to think about the day that an emergency might happen at their facilities, especially an active shooter crisis, but it is something that each organization must prepare. Not only is mass emergency preparation a legal obligation, but most would argue that it is a moral one. You want to keep your people informed and out of harm’s way. If there’s an emergency, people expect to be notified and provided the guidance to remain safe. There are many alerts that we have grown accustomed to receiving such as weather alerts, Amber or Silver Alerts, or even local emergency alerts. So, if there’s an active shooter emergency in the vicinity, people expect to be alerted in a similar fashion.
Severe weather can happen at any time. Depending on the season and your location, weather threats can range from thunderstorms and tornadic activity to hurricanes, Nor’easters, or even a wintry mix. Having emergency communication plans and an automated method of distributing said communications in place helps ensure you and the people you are responsible for are kept safe and informed during severe weather season - no matter which season.
Of all the requirements of the Jeanne Clery Act college and university communities most frequently associate it with the timely warning. As an original part of the 1990 law timely warnings have fundamentally changed how students and employees learn about campus crime in a way that is now firmly enshrined in their cultures as it is what they most frequently see.