Planning for and implementing an emergency action plan not only safeguards the physical and emotional safety of students, faculty and visitors, it reduces legal exposure. Organizations often forget that failure to create proven safety measures for each potential emergent situation can leave them personally and professionally exposed if disaster strikes. Protecting people, securing assets and strengthening brands is paramount, but often gets put on the back burner, leaving many vulnerable to sudden and smoldering crises.
Academic institutions should have at least three types of emergency protocols in place (1) emergency evacuation procedures for fires, gas leaks or any other in-building threat that requires people to quickly evacuate in an orderly manner, (2) shelter in place protocols are designed to protect people in the event of natural disasters, weather related emergencies and other critical situations; and (3) active shooter or terrorist threat guidelines most often put the building and its occupants in “lock-down” mode.
An emergency evacuation plan protects against what is the most common form of emergency to occur in academic settings, a fire. Having efficient routes in place for each section of the building to its easiest and fastest egress point allows for a much safer escape for workers. Rehearsed, timely evacuation models save lives.
Shelter in place plans protect against natural disasters and weather related emergencies. Beside fires, this is the next most likely emergency to occur at work. This plan puts the building in “safety” mode and is designed to lessen the risk of personal injury should a disaster strike. From earthquakes to tornadoes to even heavy winds to nearby criminal activity, a plan must be in place for each potential threat. Different shelter in place severity levels can be used depending on the threat, but each predicted eventuality must be practices and employees trained to standard.
The final plan that should be in place is an active shooter plan. Although this is the least likely to be used, should it occur, it will be very damaging and devastating, physically and emotionally. Given the recent acts of terror in public places, an active shooter plan can greatly decrease the likelihood a shooter succeeds in harming others. This plan puts occupants in “lock-down” mode, in most cases locking people in their classroom, office or other secure rooms to deny intruders easy access. The Run, Hide Fight model is alive and well!
The first order of leadership at any level, in any industry, is to provide a safe place to live, work, go to school and raise a family. Are you doing everything possible to protect those that depend on you? Is your team ready to meet the moment? You better be.