Last week LEC Management was proud to attend the Clery Act Training at Occidental College as a sponsor. One of their main tenants is the importance of a collaborative approach to compliance. Clery compliance should never be the job of a “lone soldier.” But often, this is the case. The Chief of Police or director of campus security becomes the single agent in charge of monitoring all aspects of Clery, and often with only tacit support from campus administration.
Today, I’d like to take a look at what a collaborative approach means for your school’s emergency operations plan and annual testing requirement.
1) Write the EOP so that it specifies who will fulfill which role of ICS structure.
The Federal Government’s “Guide to Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans” recommends that all schools use ICS structure, regardless of the size or complexity of the school. While this may seem like overkill, it addresses a key point of preparedness: someone will need to be responsible for all the jobs organized by ICS sections. But in an administrative structure that was not created specifically for emergency management and response, the fast pace of a critical incident can bring with it confusion, a power vacuum, or a “too many cooks in the kitchen” effect. Addressing ICS structure from a simple common sense and best practice mentality is one step towards collaboration and can circumvent confusion during an emergency.
Even for a small school, asking some common sense questions, and filling in which office or person has authority over a particular facet of the structure,can be helpful. For example:
- Who will create press releases and act as the Press Information Officer?
- Who can facilitate logistics and has knowledge of the school’s facilities and resources?
- Who will be authorized to spend money?
- Who will be responsible for documentation?
2) Run a table top exercise/test of your EOP that includes the key players who will have decision making power in an emergency situation.
College and university administrators most often do not have a background in emergency management. Even highly skilled and successful school administration may not have the experience or training to handle an emergency from a managerial position. Regardless they will hold key roles in ICS structure (such as permission finance, logistics, etc) during a campus critical incident, but may have never had to make decisions or exercise their administrative powers during an emergency. Running a table top exercise of the emergency operations plan allows the administrators to work directly with the first responders, police or security chief, and each other to practice making decisions, to clarify the responsibility of each person’s position within the group.
It is also common for first responders to have a different approach to responding to an event than administration feels comfortable with or is ready to support. The time to work out those differences in culture and motivation is not in the EOC during a crisis, or even worse, over the phone lines with administration in their offices, rather than the EOC. A risk free environment, with everyone at the table, working the plan together is vital.
Make sure your debrief is structured to allow feedback and changes in your EOP. This time is valuable for reviewing reasoning behind decisions and taking stock of which aspects of the plan need to be revised.
3) Include anyone your campus as an MOU with, or who could respond to a 911 on campus when you text your emergency operations plan. You will benefit from their expertise. They will have an opportunity to understand your campus with its ins and outs, and therefore will be in a much better position to respond appropriately during a critical incident.
The only way to be Clery compliant is through a collaborative effort. Beyond compliance, collaboration is the best practice for writing, testing and evaluating a school’s EOP, so that when disaster strikes, the entire team is ready to preserve campus safety.
This week Dr. Roger Mason will be presenting a session at IACLEA’s annual conference in Montreal. Stay tuned for more details on how to improve your EOP!