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Emergency Preparedness: A Lesson Plan

Emergency Preparedness: A Lesson Plan

by The Clearpath EPM Team


The beginning of the new school year is the best time to focus on critical skills and procedures for a response to an emergency. A great lesson for students, staff and faculty is how to remain safe and out of harm’s way when faced with an imminent threat.

Here’s a lesson plan to get your started.

Lesson Purpose:

  1. Identify, practice and update critical skills and response procedures for emergencies.

Preparing the Learners:

  1. Review your school’s emergency plan and emergency response protocols.



  1. How does your plan reflect the current threats and hazards your school faces?

  2. What protocols are needed to address your threats and hazards? If you are uncertain about the correct protocols seek assistance from a knowledgeable school emergency preparedness expert.

  3. What are some ways you will test your protocols to ensure the response protocols are safe and viable?

Spend the time necessary to align all protocols with your threats and hazards.


Crisis Management Team Practice: Time to test your plan using the protocols. Create a simulation of a possible emergency scenario. Involve only the Crisis Management Team in this scenario. A possible scenario could be: a fire breaks out in the school cafeteria kitchen during high school lunch. Based on your existing protocols how would you respond? Create and practice a simulation for every protocol in your plan. Follow the simulations with a walk-through of each protocol. Try them out first with the Crisis Management Team.

Whole Faculty and Staff Practice: This time extend the practice to the entire staff and faculty without students being in school. Be sure that all staff and faculty have been properly briefed on the response protocols. If your school uses Quick Action Guides, which are booklets printed or downloaded to mobile devices detailing the specific actions to take during the various response protocols, make sure they are up to date and distributed. Practice at a minimum, the following response protocols:

  1. Evacuation

  2. Reverse evacuation

  3. Duck & cover

  4. Shelter-in-place

  5. Lock-down

  6. Off-campus evacuation

Other threat or hazard specific response protocols developed by your CMT and leadership cadre should be practiced with the appropriate staff and faculty members. Some protocol examples are mental health concerns, workplace violence, bullying, or sexual abuse.

Whole School Practice: The final preparedness training phase involves the student body with a series of campus-wide drills that are scheduled throughout the school year. While the most common school drill worldwide may be the evacuation (or often referred to as a fire drill), a more valuable response protocol to practice, and one that may save more lives, would be the reverse-evacuation. This protocol is used when an imminent threat occurs while the students are on the playing fields, having lunch in the cafeteria, outside, or moving from one class to the next. The reverse-evacuation protocol is rarely practiced but it should be given that threatening situations can occur when all students are out of their classrooms

Assessment and Closure:

Ask faculty and staff to provide feedback on what worked and what needs improvement. This broadens the perspective of the Crisis Management Team. While the CMT and other key staff members may have a more comprehensive understanding of overall emergency preparedness, no one knows the environment better than the teachers and staff who work and access their individual classrooms, areas and offices on a day-to-day basis. Seek, listen to, and incorporate their advice!

Finally, be sure to document your drill activity noting all participants, date and time, and including positive outcomes and areas for improvement. This will help you improve your plan for the safety of your students, school personnel and visitors. Also, some accreditation agencies and insurance companies require documentation that your emergency preparedness drills have taken place. This record keeping will provide the required evidence.

Tomorrow’s Lesson: Complex Drill Practice:

The best emergency training for the school is practice of more complex drills. An example of a complex drill would be to start your scenario when many of your students are outside of their normal classrooms, like at lunch or PE classes. Commence with a reverse-evacuation back to safe areas inside. Then call for a lock-down.   After the school is locked down, the CMT should initiate an “evacuation” protocol. This type of drill, while complex, is also very realistic of the type of multi-threat scenario you could face. This whole drill lasts approximately thirty minutes, but in that time you have practiced three of your protocols at one time. Practice one of these complex drills quarterly and you will have a well-prepared and well-rehearsed team, including students, staff, faculty and leadership!

One Final Tip For Your Emergency Preparedness Lesson Plan:

Again, after conducting any type of training or drills always seek comments from your stakeholders (to include your students), where lessons learned and additional best practices can be incorporated into your emergency preparedness plans and protocols.

The Clearpath EPM Team wishes you a healthy, happy and safe school year!

Clearpath EPM provides advice, training and software solutions to enhance student protection worldwide.


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