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Taking Action: Creating Model Emergency Management Plans for Schools, Institutions of Higher Education and Houses of Worship »

Including Behavioral Health Needs

A comprehensive Emergency Management Plan for schools, higher university and/or church/faith-based institutions should include resources/approach to manage stress for crisis response professions and community members. Two examples of resources to incorporate into an Emergency Management Plan are: A Guide to Managing Stress in Crisis Response Professions provides a framework for stress management strategies for crisis response workers and managers. These strategies are sufficiently broad so that individuals and groups can select those that best fit their needs and circumstances; Psychological First Aid for First Responders provides tips for Emergency and Disaster Response Workers. These resources and others are available through Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration’s Disaster Training and Technical Assistance Center (SAMHSA DTAC) at http://www.samhsa.gov/dtac . Education about stress and its prevention and mitigation through planning are essential components of Emergency Management planning.

Submitted by in Mar 2013

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  1. Importance of Having a Plan: Effective planning is a key component of incident management that helps prevent emergencies from becoming crises. Schools must plan for emergencies because:Schools are responsible for ensuring the safety of students and staff. Parents and communities are more confident knowing their schools are prepared for an incident.Some State laws require emergency planning.
    Benefits of preparedness extend to the home and community.
    Having a comprehensive plan that addresses all possible hazards is important because emergency situations develop quickly and emergency responders may not be available immediately. A comprehensive plan:Identifies the steps for managing all phases of an incident—preincident, during the incident, and postincident.Explains what to do in an incident and why it is important to do so.Describes important constraints (what “must be done”) and restraints (what “must not be done”).Benefits of School Emergency Planning Having a school emergency plan provides benefits to the school and the community by:Presenting opportunities to engage the whole community—students, parents, staff, emergency responders, and community members.Giving families a basis to develop their own emergency plans.Clarifying roles and responsibilities.Improving response to an emergency situation to prevent injuries, save lives, and allow for a more rapid return to normal school operations.
    Providing a comprehensive understanding of the hazards the school faces. Community preparedness: The school plan must be integrated with the community plan through planning and exercising in collaboration with local emergency management representatives and first responders. This coordination will enable the school to know when and how they will receive assistance from first responders and the school’s role in the event of an incident (e.g., a shelter facility for affected residents, a staging area, a point of distribution for emergency supplies and food, etc.). Crisis situations are especially difficult for children emotionally. Often, the perception that children are naturally resilient causes people to expect them to simply bounce back from a disaster. However, children are profoundly affected by upheaval in their worlds and need opportunities to share their concerns with other children and caring adults in order to recover from and cope with the effects of a disaster. Save the Children offers community-based recovery and resilience-building programs for children and their caregivers. These workshops use cooperative games and structured play, expressive exercises, and art activities. Children are often deeply affected by what they see and hear during and after an emergency. During major disasters, children across the country may be frightened by media reports of the destruction, even if their families were not in harm's way. When developing the Emergency Operations Plan, your community or organization must consider ways to protect children from physical harm and ensure that appropriate medical care is available for children injured in disasters. Your plan should also address methods for enhancing children’s emotional stability because it can be easily disrupted by a disaster event. Programs are available to help children and caregivers plan for disasters and cope with them after an event occurs.
    in Mar 2013

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