The four phases of emergency management (prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery) provide a practical and sustainable framework around which P/K-12 schools, colleges and houses of worship may structure their emergency management plans. Our experience at the Montana Safe Schools Center is that the phases are easy to understand and that excellent resources are available to schools on these topics (ex: U.S. Dept. of Ed Readiness & Emergency Management in Schools programs/TA Center). Examples of specific activities in each phase which could be considered part of an exemplar plan include: Prevention- conducting vulnerability assessments annually which are of reasonable scale so they may be conducted in house and in partnership with police, fire, public health and emergency management representatives; Preparedness - clear recommendations for how many, all-hazard emergency exercises schools should conduct within, for example, a three year period. This includes table-top, functional and full scale exercises linked to vulnerability assessment results; Response- use of the Incident Command structure is essential as are recommendations to help Incident Commanders provide frequent updates to school staff about incident status; Recovery- incorporation of Psychological First Aid as well as mid/long term mental health interventions is also important to include. Given suicidal ideation frequency and links to targeted violence, suicide response / prevention activities and procedures to address secondary traumatization, memorials and anniversaries are also essential.
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