The Noggin Blog

Why Master School Emergency Lockdown Terms?

Posted by The Brain on Sep 12, 2018 1:22:09 AM



Building or updating your school emergency lockdown plan? Smart move. As you probably know, during the first half of the year, the US averaged over one active school shooting incident per week. What’s more, the number of bomb threats also seems to be rising. The need for school emergency lockdown planning has never been greater.

In that context, memorizing a bunch of new incident terms, as part of your planning effort, might seem beside the point. It’s not. In fact, understanding proper school emergency lockdown terminology is vitally important to the development and successful implementation of your plan.

Sure, in the event of an actual, stressful school emergency lockdown situation, it makes a lot of sense to keep things as simple as possible. However, that reasoning doesn’t obviate the need for mastering the appropriate incident and emergency management terminology.

Why’s that? Though you might be the “first responder” in an emergency lockdown situation, you’ll at some point transfer command over to emergency responders. Those folks tend to use their own set of field-specific terms.

Speaking a common language will only help your incident response team to communicate more efficiently and avoid misunderstandings. A whole bunch of terms like incident, team, role, team member have specific meanings in the emergency management context.

Also, school emergency lockdown-related terminology has proliferated over time. The term lockdown itself refers specifically to the sheltering of people from immediate or threatened danger in a safe and protected indoor location on the school campus and any related facilities, in an orderly manner.

That’s simple enough. But you’ll encounter a lot of plans that layout procedures for different types of lockdowns. Instead of one complete lockdown, those plans might have procedures for a partial and a complete lockdown. The rationale here being:

  • Not all situations demand a complete lockdown.
  • Schools often inadvertently let situations escalate to the point where a complete lockdown becomes necessary, when a partial lockdown could have headed off the danger earlier.

School emergency lockdown plans with multiple lockdown procedures should be especially clear about the terms they use. Teachers and administrators coming from different schools or districts might be accustomed to using different terms to describe the same scenarios. Make sure to train new faculty, staff, and students using the specific terms (and definitions) you’d like to use.

Here’s a list of terms for partial and complete lockdowns:


To learn more, download our guide to developing an emergency lockdown plan.


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For more crisis planning content for schools and school districts, follow @teamnoggin on Twitter

Topics: Crisis Management, Noggin Crisis, Critical Issues Management, Education and Schools, Crisis Plans, Universities, Crisis Planning

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