Is There Anyone Out There?

 

After all the links to resources provided, after all the articles discussing the issues related to emergency management programs in schools, after all the input and suggestions received, the most basic of questions now must be asked, "Is there anyone out there right here, right now who might be interested in taking on the challenge of designing, developing, implementing, and then helping in the maintenance of an emergency management program for a particular school??

 

That, folks, is the bottom line here. And that is where we must start.

 

I Want It, And I Want It NOW!

 

To be perfectly blunt and honest up front, this process to implementation will NOT happen overnight. In our professional experience it can actually take one or more years to get a viable, mandate compliant, National Response Framework (NRF), National Incident Management System (NIMS), and Incident Command System (ICS) compliant, full spectrum emergency management program up and going.

 

Our point - if you aren't ready, willing, and able to see it through to implementation and ongoing maintenance and to take pride in something you've helped to create not only for yourself and your own kids, but for those who follow, please don't bother getting involved or joining the group.

 

Get in on the ground level. Help make this a "Grassroots" initiative with a groundswell of student, parent, and community involvement for SAFE SCHOOLS everywhere.

 

 

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Here's your opportunity to be included in the first group and "MAKE" something positive happen to promote Safe Schools. There are no fees, no costs (other than your time) required by, or associated with, becoming a registered user on this website. The materials included here are free, and your membership is free. Please join!

 

Consultants - Pros and Cons:

 

You don't need a consultant. Repeat - you do NOT need a consultant to do this. Far too often hiring unqualified consultants to do the job becomes problematic.

 

"One of the ways they conceal the fact that they aren't qualified is they won't work with local police, fire, emergency management and public health officials because they are afraid of being exposed when the local experts get involved," says Mike Dorn, executive director of Safe Havens International and former chief of police for the Bibb County public schools. Dorn recommends school officials take a collaborative approach. (Campus Safety Magazine - Columbine, 10 years later: The State of School Safety)

 

Professional experience in this area tells us this statement is pretty much true. Many organizations look first to hire consultants to do the job they have been mandated themselves to do. These consultants, often times, are very expensive and usually cost way more than they deliver. As with any profession, there are good consultants, and there are not so good consultants. Regardless, they ALL cost money because that's how they make their living.

 

Schools, in their scramble to comply with emergency management and crisis response planning mandates, almost inevitably look to consultants for help. And, as the article points out, many of those consultants pretty much fall flat on their faces. Can't put all the blame on the consultants, though. Planning is a dynamic process. The schools, more often than not, turn the crisis response plan design, development, implementation, and even the maintenance process completely over to the consultant(s) thereby "skirting" or maybe even “shirking” their own responsibility to be actively involved in that process. We, in emergency management, call that "planning in a vacuum", and planning in a vacuum defeats the process right from the start.

 

Our point: instead of hiring consultants to do a job that costs more than many school budgets can allow for, why not tap into existing resources within the community to do virtually the same thing at virtually no cost (other than any hardware the team decides together is necessary to accomplish their goal of safer schools)? That, in a nutshell, is what The PEACE Challenge is all about!

 

What About Resources?

 

The truth of the matter is every single school district has the resources. They just aren't aware they exist. Every single school district also has the expertise. Right now, we must assume that this expertise must, for the most part, be classified as "potential" expertise because it hasn't yet been fully developed. Consider this in the overall scheme of things:
 
 

 

Where is the primary focus in your school district? Has it been on "hardware" like metal detectors, cameras, and fencing? Has it been on installing software programs to run the hardware?

 

Has your focus even included "people"? School Resource Officers? How about WATCH D.O.G.S.  organizations? Or, perhaps Schools and Families Engaged? There's a ton of them out there just waiting to have you visit and get involved.

 

No More Excuses!

 

Would it be accurate to state: Many people push for taking personal responsibility in so many areas of each other's lives (e.g.; welfare, food stamps, education, etc.), but when it comes to getting involved themselves, they "cede" their own personal responsibility over to others?

 

 

 

Think about that in terms of our children and their education. How many of us take an "active" role in the education of our children? Do we "expect" schools to take care of everything, including providing totally for our children's safety while in school or participating in school activities?

 

The logical next step might then be to ask how far does that responsibility for provision of safety extend? School personnel? Law enforcement? Emergency medical? Public information? Please think about this for a second or two. Where does personal responsibility enter into the equation?

 

We witnessed first hand the chaos felt by frantic parents both at Platte Canyon High School and at Columbine High School. We lived, and are still living, those aftermaths. Perhaps it's time for all of us to think about what each of us might be able to do to help plan for the type of chaos that inevitably follows events like these.

 

Remember:

 

 

 

We are all stakeholders in this. Our schools should be considered as "critical infrastructure" as far as we are concerned. It then becomes incumbent on us, as community members, to address how to best protect that "critical infrastructure".

 

Schools as "Critical Infrastructure":

 

(Congressional Research Service Report) This is a Congressional Research Service report that defines "critical infrastructure". Schools are included on the list.

 

In order to "protect and preserve" critical infrastructures, we all need to recognize and accept money and resources are required. Some of these critical infrastructures are public and some are private. All deserve due consideration, in our opinion.

 

How Far Have We Really Come?

 

According to the United States Government Accountability Office, "Most school districts have taken federally recommended steps to plan and prepare for emergencies including the development of emergency management plans; while the content of plans vary, many do not include recommended practices."
 

GAO Report on School Safety Highlights