It is truly important for all organizations, schools included, to have a business continuity plan in preparation for an emergency. As continuously underlined throughout this blog, simple tabletop exercises can help individuals better plan and prepare for an emergency situation.
Earlier this week, Cheshire High School in Connecticut held a simulated lockdown to help students, faculty and emergency responders better prepare for a hostage situation. Local police were involved for the first time and SWAT team members briefed students on a mock shooting and standoff. Students were asked to participate as active members, pretending to be hostages and victims.
Principal Kevin Ryan said that some of the students, even though thoroughly briefed and made aware of the situation beforehand, seemed genuinely terrified in the staged scenario.
"It was a pretty awesome thing to watch men and women in full gear," he said in a My Record Journal article. "They got caught up in the moment."
Ryan was a principal at another Connecticut high school in 1999 when the Columbine High School attacks occurred in Littleton, Colorado. With help of local police, he also held drills at the high school to prepare for a similar situation. This time he said one of the biggest lessons learned was to make sure that proper communication is maintained throughout the entire situation.
"You need to be prepared," said police spokesman Lt. James Fasano. "It tested the school's ability to lock that down and gave police a chance to test their training. We learned a lot. It's an excellent opportunity for training, and if a realistic incident evolves, we're prepared."
School officials ensured that no one was going to be caught off guard in the situation and posted plans in the school and local papers, on the school website and informed parents through phone calls.
While it is Connecticut state law for schools to hold fire or evacuation drills and lockdown drills it is vital for all organizations to conduct business continuity planning. One option is to partner with a disaster recovery consultant, as these individuals are properly trained to design drills and help find areas of improvement for the future.