Ever wonder what emergency drills your school should be doing? Ever wonder how those drills should impact your school emergency plan? Ever wonder how often you should be drilling your emergency response plans? I'm happy to tell you, thanks to Chris Joffe, CEO of Joffe Emergency Services, I have answers for your burning questions.
The five most basic school emergency drills are: fire, hurricane, tornado, earthquake, and lockdown. Many schools know and execute these drills based on their geographic location.
There are then five more advanced drills: shelter in place, secure campus, active shooter, fallen aircraft, and sudden outbreak of contagious disease. These drills might not be executed nearly as often. For example, in a webinar we hosted with Joffe Emergency Services, 0% of the webinar attendees had ever drilled for fallen aircraft. That led us to ask, how often should school emergency drills, basic and advanced, be practed? Chris Joffe provided us with the guidelines below.
Drill once a month
This is a general rule. Some schools find this is too much while others think it's not enough. The key is to check with your local fire department and city and county regulations to make sure there aren't requirements that you drill more or less frequently.
Start with the basics
The first three months of the school year are a good time to work your way up in terms of drill severity.
- September: At this point in the school year, teachers and students are still getting to know one another, so a fire drill and evacuation is a good, easy drill to conduct and execute for everyone involved. It's also one of the more likely emergencies, making it a good one to familiarize everyone with from the start.
- October: Students and teachers should be more comfortable with one another by this time, so it's good to do the first modified drill like earthquake, severe weather, or tornado. These are still basic drills, but the actions taken are more than just exiting a building.
- November: Now it's time to do an even more severe drill with more requirements like a lockdown/human made emergency.
Work toward the most likely, more advanced drills
After the first three months, it's time to look at your school, the population, the geographic location, etc. and determine which emergencies are most likely to happen to you. For example, the south east is more likely to prepare for a hurricane than an earthquake. Pick the ones that you're most likely to encounter OR that you're weakest at currently, and repeat those drills more frequently.
One general schedule would look like: fire, hurricane, lockdown, fire hurricane, lockdown, fire, moulage, lockdown. (Moulage is a more advanced drill that allows full blown search and rescue and allows all of your emergency teams to take action.)
The key again, is to look at your school and decide which drills make the most sense for your community.