Training, Drilling, and Exercising Toolkit

2.1 Why Conduct Drills?

Drills enhance safety, which saves lives and protects property. Any emergency plan is only as good as the ability of students, faculty and staff to execute it. When everyone at the campus regularly practices the plan, they are more confident in making decisions to effectively and efficiently manage an emergency. With good training and practice, everyone involved will be better able to respond appropriately to emergency events.

The safety and security of students and staff depends upon knowing what to do when an actual incident occurs. Minutes or even seconds can make a difference in saving lives. Conducting drills strengthens schools as learning organizations by empowering and creating a culture of preparedness. Drills allow administrators, staff and students to better prevent, mitigate, prepare for and recover from a variety of incidents.

Drills are intended to practice and refine a single emergency response, such as evacuating for fire or locking down from a threat. Each drill concentrates on a single function in order to strengthen skills and identify areas where improvements are needed. Drills should involve people who are regularly on campus, including students, faculty, non-instructional staff, substitute teachers, volunteers, visitors and contractors. Although drills may not always involve participation by other agencies; periodically involving first responders, and/or district administrators is beneficial; their insight and evaluation can be valuable.

The district should coordinate the development of drill processes, activities, and scheduling requirements with local fire marshal office and law enforcement to ensure the district meets regulations adopted by these local authorities.

Drills are also a first and important step in keeping schools safe and secure. They are filled with teachable moments and they are as important to schools as reading, writing and arithmetic. The purpose of drills is to save lives and property. An Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) is only as good as the ability of students, faculty and staff to execute it. Following the established plan requires a quick but careful assessment of the situation and practiced decisions as to the best course of action.

When everyone at the campus regularly practices the plan, school personnel are more confident in making decisions to effectively and efficiently manage an emergency or major event. With good training and practice, everyone involved will be better able to react appropriately to emergency events.

The safety and security of students and staff depends upon everyone knowing, to the extent possible, what to do when an actual incident occurs. Minutes or even seconds often can make a critical difference in saving lives. Conducting drills strengthens schools as learning organizations by empowering and creating a culture of preparedness. Drills allow administrators, staff and students to better prevent, mitigate, prepare for and recover from a variety of incidents.

Action plans derived from drills allow schools to translate lessons learned and best practices into specific corrective steps and measures to continually improve the safety and security of schools. In addition to these benefits, drills are mandated by Texas law. Check out the Texas School Safety Center's Drill Recommendations for schools and start making drills a way of life in your school!