Team-driven operational planning is the key to most successful incident response efforts, even severe weather emergency response. For instance, the people on your school’s severe weather emergency response team will be the ones helping you craft, implement, and refine your plan. Here’re some tips to help you choose wisely:
First of all, if available, seek out people with school emergency management experience, especially in severe weather emergencies. Severe weather emergencies are pretty stressful, not to mention dangerous. Therefore, it could be helpful to recruit school psychologists and nurses.
Also, make specific provisions for bus drivers in your severe weather emergency plan. Sure, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. But drivers need to know whether they should wait on school grounds or transport children – generally, it’s far preferable to hold students on campus rather than having them on the roads in the case of extreme weather. Either way, make a habit of sharing weather updates with drivers.
Now, how to set up the severe weather emergency response effort itself? Often, schools divide responsibilities between campus response and an Incident Command System (ICS) team.
The campus response effort usually includes the principal (who often acts as the Incident Commander and coordinates directly with the Superintendent’s office), school faculty, staff (reporting to the Incident Commander), and parents (who feed relevant information directly to incident command).
The responsibilities of faculty on the Campus Response team are particularly broad; they include the following and more:
- Supervise students
- Take steps to ensure the safety of students, faculty, staff, and other individuals, in accordance with incident management protocols
- Direct students to designated assembly points when instructed by signals, warnings, written notifications, or intercoms orders, according to established incident management procedures
- Give the appropriate action commands during the incident
- Take attendance of students once they are relocated to a designated assembly point or evacuated to another location
Meanwhile, the ICS team, taking its name from the Incident Command System, is designed to enable the effective and efficient management of severe weather emergencies (among other incidents). The system and team integrate a combination of facilities, equipment, and procedures.
The main players on the ICS are as follows:
- Incident Commander: responsible for the overall management of the incident.
- Policy Group: provides advice, guidance, and resources to the Incident Commander. Usually staffed by the School District Superintendent and school principal.
- Public Information Officer: verifies, coordinates, and disseminates information for internal and external use.
- Operations Controller: manages the Operations Section, which directs all the tactical operations of the incident.
- Planning Controller: collects, evaluates, processes, and disseminates information for use at the incident.
- Logistics Controller: manages the Logistics Section, which provides all the incident support requirements.
- Finance/Administration Controller: manages the Finance/Administration Section, which manages all financial aspects of the incident.
To learn more about staffing your severe weather emergency response team, download our guide to developing a severe weather emergency response plan.
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