elert & associates

Preparedness: It’s Not Just Response and Recovery

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With the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting last year, many of our educational clients, both K-12 and higher education, have turned their attention to increasing the safety and security of the educational environment more than ever before. With the shooting at Arapahoe High School in Littleton, Colorado on the anniversary of Sandy Hook, the impetus to review safety and security in educational settings is even stronger.

Elert & Associates consultants work with our educational clients to review the safety and security measures and programs within the educational environment to increase the ability to prevent potential threats and to respond effectively in the event of a safety and security issue. E&A consultants work within the framework of the Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 8, which was signed by the president in March 2011 and describes the nation’s approach to preparedness. This directive represents an evolution in the understanding of preparedness, based on lessons learned from terrorist attacks, hurricanes, school incidents, and other experiences.

Preparedness should be viewed and evaluated around five mission areas:

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Prevention means the capabilities necessary to avoid, deter, or stop an imminent crime or threatened or actual mass casualty incident. Prevention is the action schools take to prevent a threatened or actual incident from occurring.

Protection means the capabilities to secure schools against acts of violence and manmade or natural disasters. Protection focuses on ongoing actions that protect students, teachers, staff, visitors, networks, and property from a threat or hazard.

Mitigation means the capabilities necessary to eliminate or reduce the loss of life and property damage by lessening the impact of an event or emergency.  Mitigation also means reducing the likelihood that threats and hazards will happen.

Response means the ability to stabilize an emergency once it has already happened; establish a safe and secure environment; save lives and property; and facilitate the transition to recovery.

Recovery means the ability to effectively and efficiently restore the learning environment.

In our work with educational organizations, we find that much of the focus of risk management and safety and security personnel is focused on the Response phase of emergency preparedness. At E&A, we believe that more attention needs to be paid to the Prevention, Protection, and Mitigation phases of emergency preparedness.

As part of our work with our educational clients, we focus on identifying critical assets and potential risks and vulnerabilities. Based on our assessment work, we make recommendations for strengthening the ability of the organization to protect the educational environment and mitigate damage, injury, and possible loss of life. We look at all aspects of organizational preparedness, including physical design, security technologies, safety and security policies and procedures, and patterns of human behavior.

As with many of our clients, E&A consultants know that human behavior is an area of increasing concern in the educational environment. As we work with our clients to conduct comprehensive and effective risk and vulnerability assessments, we include the area of human behavior as an area that is reviewed and assessed. We look at the strategies that are in place to promote a healthy, caring, and safe educational climate, the policies and procedures that have been established to identify and report concerns about the behavioral health of members of the educational community, and information and training provided to members of the educational community. It is critical that current, effective information concerning human behavior indicators of potential aggression or threat be communicated to members of the educational community in a timely and appropriate manner. Training is an important component of this Prevention strategy and should be addressed as part of the overall approach to human behavior risks. E&A has worked with a number of clients to develop an effective training program for various members of the educational community, including faculty and staff. Contact us to learn more about how we may be able to assist you in this critical process.