Training, Drilling, and Exercising Toolkit

2.4 Safety

Always review safety precautions before starting a drill. It is important that all staff take part in the drill as they would for a realistic event. Key staff, however, should be assigned a “safety officer” role, similar to the assignment they would receive in an actual event. The following safety considerations should be in place for any drill:

  • Make sure that all staff members are vigilant about actual emergencies or accidents that occur during a drill. If a student or staff member is injured, or becomes ill, provide aid and contact first responders if necessary. In such a situation it may be necessary to end the drill.

  • At the start of each drill and during subsequent announcements, ensure that the communication includes clear language to everyone that “This is a Drill”. This includes clearly communicating when the drill is concluded.

  • Set up a command post for a drill and make sure that staff members know its location. From here the drill is managed, accountability assured and real emergencies reported.

  • Since fire drills should be the first drill of each school year, it is recommended that the school announce the first fire drill of each semester so that staff, students and parents are ready and have a chance to review expectations. It may not be necessary to publicize all subsequent drills. The decision to do so is based upon district policy.

  • Drills are not conducted if an actual threat exists that could confuse or alarm participants and the community. For example, do not conduct a severe weather drill on a stormy day.

  • It is the responsibility of all persons associated with the drill to stop the drill if, in their opinion, a real safety problem exists.

  • Never endanger students for the sake of a drill. If protocol is to move students off site, consider simulating this by moving them to a far corner of campus and then discuss with them what would happen next.

  • When drills are conducted, all staff and visitors should be expected to participate. Staff members should not get in the habit of thinking a drill doesn't apply to them; this includes faculty members who have an off/conference period and all non-instructional staff, and may require posting signs in the office to indicate that a drill is in process, temporarily disrupting normal activities.

  • Volunteers, non-campus based support staff and other visitors who are on campus should be part of the drill as well. If parents are present to check-out their students from school or to drop off items, they should be asked to wait until the drill is over as vehicles moving through the parking lot can be a hazard to students who are being evacuated.

  • Considerations should be made for people with disabilities. Although people with disabilities are not excluded from drills, the routines they practice may not mirror those of all students. This may require that buses, additional staff assistance and other relocation areas need to be identified in advance.

  • Consider inviting first responders to drills when possible, and at least once a year. Not only does this help them understand the nuances of school emergencies, but it also provides campus staff an opportunity to see how students react to emergency vehicles and become aware of how first responders are likely to position their vehicles in an emergency. This helps reduce the risk of students moving into the path of responders.

  • Special arrangements may be needed to help classes under the care of substitute teachers. During drills, assign buddy teachers or staff who can help guide the substitute teacher through the process.