Tuesday 11th October 2016
‘Planning for the worst, hoping for the best’ – maximising the security and safety of your students
In the last few months’ campuses around the globe have been subjected to bomb threats, arson attacks, racially aggravated incidents, lone shooter incidents, as well as cyber-attacks – the list goes on and on. Some institutions have responded well, communicated clearly, having dealt with the incident appropriately and efficiently, thus reinforcing their reputation within the education sector. Others, less so and their reputation could suffer irreparable damage as a result.
The safety of students and institution reputation go hand in hand
It’s easy in both a professional capacity and daily life capacity to adopt an ‘it won’t happen to us’ attitude but no one is safe from the dangers schools face in this modern world. If you think that these incidents are not going to happen at your school, then let me tell you – at no point since the foundation of your educational institution are you at a greater risk of having to deal with an incident that has the ability to cripple and destroy your reputation. Fact.
Poorly managed incidents publicised in local and global press, only serve to strip that institution of the reputation they have built up over decades and centuries. Incident Planning for the sake of preserving reputation is not the end goal, however it is the enduring legacy for the institution that ends up in the firing line. Managing incidents and protecting child safety, whilst maintaining the security of the school all feed into reputation management.
So, is your campus prepared for these incidents? And is the safety and security of your student’s top priority?
You have a duty of care, whether you’re a University, College or International School to assure the security and safety of your students, faculty staff and visitors. With weekly reports of security breaches and growing safety concerns, you must ensure your plans and procedures are both accurate and actionable by your team.
The expectation of students and parents is that you are in fact prepared and ready to respond to the credible threats facing the education sector. That if the worst should occur, your teams can handle whatever is thrown at them.
Prevention is better than cure, but ahead of an incident you need to consider the following:
- How prepared is your team? Do you regularly exercise your plans? The best institutions exercise quarterly in preparation for an incident. New quarter, new department, and a new incident to exercise. They set up an incident, measure their people’s response, identify gaps in their plans, review them and then train their people on the updates.
- How do you communicate with your students, parents as well as faculty staff? i.e. Consider, Mobile Technology, Facebook, Instagram or whatever platform the people you need to communicate with use on a daily basis. If your unsure, go speak with your Media / Communications team.
- Be sure to script pre-incident templates for use when an actual incident occurs. Gain advice on what to do should an incident occur i.e. Run, Hide & Fight. Advice on where not to go on campus needs to be done at the time.
- Who will be alerted to these incidents and how does this person escalate the incident to the relevant people within your team? For example, is your security department tasked with informing a member of the Senior Leadership Team who then in turns calls an emergency? Ensure there is clear means for escalation during a crisis and everyone is aware what their responsibilities are.
- How do you ensure the entire team do what they are supposed to? Will you supply them with “Glance cards” that detail what to do in the event of any number of incidents? Will there be guidelines or workflows to follow?
- How do you communicate with the Media, both on a local & national level? Again, prepare pre-canned templates pre-incident, which are then modified when needed. It’s important that you are the single source of credible information around this incident. It’s important that you start communicating as soon as is reasonably possible and sustain those communications over the course of the incident and the days after. It’s your reputation, you’re the authority and credible source of communication.
- How will your team communicate during the incident? Consider a cyber-attack that takes down your Instant Messaging, Skype or Email system. What then? Do you have up to date contact information for faculty staff, department heads or other stakeholders? Will you use another system?
Incidents can and always will happen – the order of magnitude and severity is however, a variable. How you and your team respond is also a variable, but one that you can control. You can get your institution ready, get your plans in shape, deploy them across the organisation and have them ready for your people to use when needed. You must drill these plans regularly and where possible use appropriate tools to help manage the incidents better and quicker.
How can ICR help?
An incident can be an intense, highly pressurised situation where decision making can be difficult. ICR™ is a user friendly mobile application that ensures your incident management team have everything they need to respond as per the plan, when they are called to respond to an incident. A series of pre-built Action Cards help co-ordinate your teams through such an eventuality and allows teams to communicate through an app on their phone. Each incident is accessible from a remote location and the app builds up a complete picture of the incident as it happens, thus generating a full and accurate report after the incident has concluded.
For more information on how ICR: Campus Incident Control™ can help you contact us today to arrange a demo.