Use training, tabletop exercises, and drills to prepare for safety incidents.
Training teaches staff and faculty about the policies, procedures, roles, and responsibilities in their school’s Emergency Operations Plan (school EOP). It also gives them the information they need to train their students on emergency procedures. Tabletop exercises allow schools to discuss their plans, policies, and procedures in an emergency scenario. Drills provide everyone with the chance to practice the actions they will take before, during, and after an emergency. Training and exercises are an essential component of school safety plans.
One way to prepare for emergency situations is to incorporate real-world scenarios or tabletop exercises into school safety training. During tabletop exercises participants discuss emergency policies and procedures, and their roles and responsibilities before, during, and after an emergency scenario. This helps improve performance during an actual incident.
Schools should encourage safety training for the entire school community and regularly review training protocols to ensure that everyone is prepared to respond to incidents. Schools should reinforce training through drills and tabletop exercises that are appropriate for the school’s culture, and students and staff should practice their responses on a regular basis.
Strategies to Consider
- Train staff and faculty on aspects of the school EOP that align with their roles and responsibilities during emergencies. Use developmentally-appropriate, trauma-informed training on parts of the school EOP that require student involvement.
- Designate a person to plan, conduct, and evaluate school EOP exercises.
- Conduct discussion-based exercises, like tabletop exercises, at least once a year, and revise the school EOP based on the outcome. Consider including community partners, like first responders, local emergency management staff, public health individuals, and the American Red Cross.
- Conduct operations-based drills for staff and faculty and developmentally-appropriate, trauma-informed drills for students to test procedures and skills in the EOP.
- Conduct at least one operations-based exercise, like a functional exercise, once per year. Include staff, faculty, and community partners. Use developmentally-appropriate, trauma-informed scenarios when students are involved. Develop an After-Action Report with an Improvement Plan.
These resources are a starting point for learning about training, exercises, and drills. Use these resources to learn about training, exercises, and drills you can use at your school.