Four-Team Approach for Creating and Maintaining a Crisis Plan

Vol. 3 No. 3


In a recent e-Letter, we discussed the importance of developing a robust crisis plan. We suggested you begin by selecting your Crisis/Risk Management Team (CRM). The focus of this team would be to perform an initial risk assessment to identify concerns and determine which risks present the greatest exposure to the school—that is, which risks should be addressed first (triaging). This team should also be responsible for developing general, overarching goals for your school’s crisis plan.

Following these activities, your CRM team would ideally select three subsidiary teams. These teams are tasked with the responsibilities of further assessing risk on a more detailed level as it relates to their perspectives—prevention/safety, response, and recovery—and creating procedures and protocols to address these. The areas of focus for these respective teams are listed below.

Safety Team

This team performs an initial risk assessment of potential “physical” dangers. They will determine of best control/mitigation methods to prevent an occurrence; these would include:

  • Background checks
  • Harassment/sexual misconduct training
  • HVAC maintenance
  • Periodic field and playground inspection
  • Sign-in and sign-out protocols
  • Sufficient insurance coverage
  • Training on bullying and “children at risk”
  • Floor plans, maps, and aerial views of the school provided to first–responders

Response Team

The Response Team creates an Emergency Response Plan. It needs to include potential occurrences such as:

  • Intruders
  • Assaults
  • Bomb threats
  • Weapons on campus
  • Pandemics
  • Child abuse/threatened suicide
  • Need to lock down/evacuate
  • Field trip emergencies

Also, this team establishes during- and after-hours procedures detailing:

  • Who begins the process
  • Drills
  • Faculty and staff contact information
  • Responsibility for crisis kit
  • Calling 911
  • Calling parents
  • Calling your insurance agent

Recovery Team

This team’s focus is on “getting back to normal,” and establishes a short-term reunification plan addressing:

  • All clear, reverse evacuation, and parent notification
  • Routes, vehicles,
  • Dealing with the media

Then for more significant, longer-term, physiological, and safe haven issues, designing a protocol for dealing with:

  • Death (student, parent, faculty member)
  • Suicide
  • Missing students (kidnapping)
  • Damage to campus/classrooms

The above four-team approach outlines the “ideal” structure for creating and maintaining a crisis plan. If your school does not have the personnel/resources for this model, you can still have a VERY effective plan and process, even with only one team. The critical element is to be certain that focus, regardless of structure, exists for all three aspects: Safety (preventing “bad” things); Response (what do we do when they happen anyway); and Recovery (getting back to normal).

Additional ISM resources of interest
ISM Monthly Update for Risk Managers Vol. 3 No. 1 Building a Risk Management Team (RMT)
ISM Monthly Update for Risk Managers Vol. 3 No. 1 Crisis Planning–It’s Your Job

Additional ISM articles of interest for Gold Consortium members
I&P Vol. 35 No. 12 Does Your Crisis Plan Really Protect Your Students (and School)?
I&P Vol. 35 No. 14 Developing Your Business Continuation Plan
I&P Vol. 35 No. 2 A Sample Strategic Plan (Including a Capital Campaign)

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