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Lifelong Learners and School Safety

Kelly Moore
January 10, 2023

While there are many reasons why people panic, one of the primary reasons is people have never experienced, nor have they prepared for an emergency like it was actually going to happen to them. In this new Podcast and Blog series presented by CrisisGo, you will see examples of situations that I have experienced in my many years as a law enforcement officer in California. At CrisisGo we call these examples, “Kelly’s Stories.” They are meant to illustrate the importance of specific points we are trying to make. So for your first “Kelly’s Story,” let me explain why it is important for everyone within a school environment to expand their knowledge, skills and competencies when it comes to school safety. Every year the college community in my jurisdiction had several unsanctioned street parties a year, two of the biggest were held in the fall and the spring.

For as long as I can remember, these parties would get completely out of hand. For many years, our agency trained all of our personnel in civil unrest (riots) procedures. Even though we had trained for this situation for many years, since nothing ever happened, we came to a point where none of our leadership and most of our line staff never believed it would happen. That all changed when a young man began to fight with law enforcement and that triggered a full-scale riot. The incident management team struggled to respond quickly due to a lack of preparedness, despite having received training on the procedures for more than two decades. This failure to properly respond prolonged the event and cost tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars more than it should have. Point here, if you do not think it will happen to you and you do not properly prepare like it will happen to you, then you will likely have an incident that is exacerbated by your lack of preparation and maintaining a proper level of competency.

In our last blog published on January 5, 2023, we talked about the roles and responsibilities of the majority of school staff, certificated and classified. While I am not going to delve into the specifics of each of those roles and responsibilities, I will discuss your responsibilities and obligations that you have to ensure you completely understand them and you can meet them at a very competent level. I have experienced many occasions when talking with school administrators where they were concerned about the lack of time they had available to train their staff in safety procedures; where their measuring of success was inadequate; or they just couldn’t get their staff to participate in very basic emergency procedures.

Kelly’s Story #2: We had a situation where a local law enforcement agency had a murder suspect holed up in an apartment across the street from one of our high schools that required the entire school to be placed in a “Lock Down”. However, when we went to check on the classrooms, there were two classes of students that were conducting normal classroom activities, one of which was a test. When asked about this, we were told they heard the alert, but didn’t think it was real and just continued on with their teaching. When we teach our students, we want them to become lifelong learners. We want them to be excited about learning all different types of subjects, skills and experiences. Yet when it comes to emergency response preparedness, we often experience push back and even an effort to stop doing drills because of the trauma people experience participating in the drills. As lifelong learners yourself, learning your roles and responsibilities during an emergency will not only reduce your chances of panicking, but will also give you the confidence to meet the challenges of protecting yourself and your students from harm.

Frankly, it’s a little frustrating when I hear a school administrator or other school official say, “That’s not my responsibility,” especially after hearing them talk about how school safety is their top priority. If you feel like emergencies challenge you, reach out to your local first responders and seek their knowledge and wisdom to help you gain the skills and confidence you need to fulfill your responsibilities. Additionally, there is a plethora of resources available on the internet. Actively engage in the emergency preparedness learning process.

Here is a list of reasons and benefits for you personally if you are able to increase your skills and knowledge:

  1. Knowing what to do during an emergency, reduces the frequency and severity of panicking during the initial stages of an emergency.
  2. Knowing that you did everything you could do, reduces future and prolonged trauma.
  3. It reduces the “Reactionary Gap”, the time between first learning about an emergency and responding to that emergency correctly.
  4. Increases confidence in fulfilling your roles and responsibilities.
  5. Increases critical thinking skills and problem solving skills.
  6. Teaches you and your students lifelong skills that you can use not only in a school setting, but in other situations outside the school environment.
  7. Peace of mind knowing that you can send your students home everyday to their families.
  8. If you and your colleagues all have the same drive to master these skills, there is a greater chance that you will never have to use them.
  9. It increases the confidence of families sending their children to you to learn.
  10. If your families and students feel safe at school, you will likely see more students engaging in school activities and meeting their potential.

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