Why? We've Always Done It That Way - Most Dangerous Phrases

February 27, 2018
Safety Insight

Events taking place on the campuses of U.S. schools are vastly different from thirty – even twenty years ago. What administrators had to deal with then were issues mainly involving running in the halls and chewing gum and maybe the occasional fist fight. Sadly, across the country today, educators are facing an ever-increasing onslaught of true crisis situations – notably physical violence and murder.

School districts’ first response teams and administrators recognize they must be prepared to respond to violent acts, nuclear and chemical hazards, weather-related events, and dozens of other crises. Most, if not all, administrators update their school emergency plans at least once a year. They spend many hours meeting with safety team members and local law enforcement and conduct yearly drills with their staff.

After all this work, a district does a mass printing of its emergency response plan, which is then assembled in a three-ring binder and distributed to administrators, teachers, and staff– all of whom then promptly put that binder on a shelf to collect dust.

Even those individuals who recognize how crucial that information is in keeping others safe will not be able to remember what they should do in the thirty-plus different emergencies that can occur within a school district. Each emergency response type will have its own cumbersome narrative on how to respond to the situation. In northern Illinois, for example, many districts are in close proximity to nuclear power plants. Because a nuclear disaster is of such magnitude, many districts have developed nuclear disaster plans that fill 50 or more pages of that three-ring binder. No one can be expected to remember what to do -- or to find the right section of the plan.

Mobile technology is rapidly changing how districts can react during the first few minutes of a crisis and beyond. Simply adhering to the slogan of “Well, we’ve always done it that way" [using paper], just doesn’t cut it anymore, especially when technology can put vital information directly into the hands of those who need it most – teachers and staff whose job is to keep our children safe.

While a three-ring binder might have a professional looking Table of Contents and colorized maps in the Appendix, that may all be rendered useless in the first few precious moments of an emergency. Scrambling to find Tab 17 in Section 9 of the binder when an intruder is roaming the halls is not the ideal action plan to get people to safety. It is time for districts to turn away from the traditional printed document (often presented in paragraphed narrative form) they have adhered to for so long and embrace the technology that puts action response plans AND two-way communication right at people's fingertips.

If you want to learn more about how you can change the way your district handles emergency planning, response, and communication, I invite you to attend one of our online webinars at a time convenient for you and your staff. To arrange a webinar time, please visit www.crisisgo.com or contact me at 314-669-9022 or salesinfo@crisisgo.com.

Greg Peterson