5.0 Mitigation, Preparedness, Response & Recovery
Emergency management consists of four key components: mitigation & prevention; preparedness; response; and recovery. Emergency management is a continuous process whereby the recovery phase of an emergency situation should lead directly into the mitigation phase to begin minimizing the risk of a recurrence or development of a similar emergency situation in the future. An emergency response plan is an evolving document, in need of continuous evaluation and revision.
The goal of mitigation and prevention is to decrease the need for emergency response as opposed to increasing response capability. Mitigation and prevention is typically a site-level responsibility, owing to the varying characteristics of each site (mainly schools). Schools can assist by:
- conducting an assessment of each school building and identifying factors that put the building, students and staff at greater risk, such as proximity to rail tracks that regularly transport hazardous materials or facilities that produce or handle toxic materials, and develop a plan for reducing the risk. This can include plans to evacuate students away from these areas in times of crisis;
- working with businesses and factories, other public institutions and other schools in close proximity to the school to ensure that the school’s emergency plan is coordinated with their emergency plans;
- ensuring a process is in place for controlling access and egress to/from the school;
- reviewing traffic patterns, and where possible, keeping cars, buses, and trucks away from school buildings;
- reviewing landscaping features and naturalized areas to ensure buildings are not obscured by overgrowth of bushes or shrubs where contraband can be placed or persons can hide.
The goal of emergency preparedness is to ensure a rapid, coordinated and effective response is possible when an emergency occurs. Preparation involves an investment of time and commitment of resources but is irreplaceable when an emergency arises. Again, the majority of the preparation is typically a site-level responsibility, owing to the varying characteristics of each Board facility (mainly schools). Schools can assist by:
- having a school site emergency plan that puts student and staff safety first;
- ensuring the site plans for each board facility are readily available;
- practicing responding to an emergency on a regular basis;
- ensuring a process is established for communicating during an emergency;
- regularly inspecting equipment and facilities to ensure they operate during an emergency;
- ensuring the Principal, Vice-principal, and school Administrative Assistant(s) are familiar with the System Emergency Response Plan and appropriate incident reporting protocols — and understand the role of the System Emergency Response Team.
An emergency is a time to follow an established response plan – not the time to create one. An effective response means:
- always expecting a level of confusion or disbelief that an emergency is actually happening;
- responding within seconds – not minutes;
- immediately notifying the appropriate first responders via 911 (police, fire, EMS);
- reporting the incident to the appropriate member(s) of the Board’s Senior Administration Team.
The goal of an effective recovery is to return to the business of teaching and learning and to restore the physical infrastructure of the affected facilities as quickly as possible. This will include:
- accessing the services of the Board’s Compassionate Care Response Team and Spiritual Animator;
- keeping the stakeholder community fully informed of the current situation and planned next steps;
- conducting a full de-briefing regarding the events of the emergency and the response;
- evaluating the effectiveness of the site level Emergency Plan and the System Emergency Response Plan and making necessary adjustments.