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Go For The Gold: Get First Responders On Your Team

09.08.16

Every day, administrators run fast… like Usain Bolt, fast… and, they wear many hats with many varying responsibilities. With everything that is required of you, it has to be challenging to continuously have a 360-degree look at your school safety and emergency preparedness measures.

Fortunately, help could be right around the corner. Your local first responders… who are also pretty familiar with running fast… are likely more than willing to collaborate with you to offer advice on school safety planning.

And, while bringing them into the picture may take up some of the little time you have – it is sure to pay off with a big GOLD medal in the end.

So, how can administrators benefit from partnering with first responders?

  1. First responders will become familiar with the layout of school buildings, increasing efficiency of response in an emergency. In an emergency, every second counts so every time a first responder steps foot onto school property when there isn’t an emergency, they become more familiar with the layout – the building’s entrances, exits, locations of hallways, restrooms, classrooms, fire extinguishers, shut-off valves and more. They also become familiar with the faces of the secretary, custodian, school counselor and others who factor into the emergency response plan.
  2. First responders can share their skills and knowledge on emergency planning. First responders are experts in emergency response and they are trained in emergency planning, and can be a valuable resource for advice. In one brief meeting, walk around school grounds or training exercise, they can share some of their skills and knowledge with you to enhance your understanding of your current level of safety and where you might want to focus your efforts to better prepare for potential emergencies.
  3. First responders can assess safety concerns. As soon as they walk onto school property, first responders can immediately start assessing a school for security or safety concerns. For example: Could they walk into the school building? Was the door locked? When did someone first address them? How easy was it to find the front office? Were they able to walk around unnoticed? Could they enter classrooms? Where do they feel intruders could hide? They can quickly provide valuable feedback and potentially offer some simple suggestions that could make all the difference in the world when an emergency strikes.
  4. First responders can help determine what resources are needed in an emergency. For example, first responders can tell you their thoughts on a proper location for a school’s emergency command center. Or, what types of maps would be helpful for emergency planning, training and response (such as NaviGate Prepared’s Maps & Floor Plans).
  5. First responders can enhance a safety plan. Using NaviGate Prepared’s Safety Plan Wizard, school administrators can easily and effectively create a standard school safety plan. By bringing first responders into the safety plan development process, they can offer additional insight as to how to customize a template safety plan for your school, how to make the plan actionable, and how to practice the plan.

We feel first responders are vital to school safety planning and emergency preparedness. So much so, that when we designed NaviGate Prepared, we created it per feedback from both administrators and responders, as Ohio’s Chief Deputy Orvis L. Campbell of the Tuscarawas County Sheriff’s Office has pointed out.

If your local first responders aren’t already involved in your safety planning, get them on your team as soon as possible. You’ll soon realize that school administrators + first responders = a winning combination.

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