The National Incident Management System (NIMS) defines preparedness as “a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking corrective action in an effort to ensure effective coordination during incident response.”
The Preparedness Cycle was created to illustrate the following steps:
Prevention - To prevent, avoid, or stop a crisis event from happening in a school environment.
Protection - To protect all individuals in a school environment against the greatest threats and hazards to them in their specific school's environment.
Mitigation - To reduce the loss of life and property by lessening the impact of future potential crisis events in a school environment.
Response - To respond to any crisis event on a school campus quickly to save lives, protect the school's property and environment, and meet basic human needs in the aftermath of a catastrophic event.
Recovery - To recover through a focus on the timely restoration, strengthening and revitalization of infrastructure, housing and a sustainable economy, as well as the health, social, cultural, historic and environmental fabric of communities affected by a catastrophic incident.
Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS), 15-341 (A) (31) requires each school site to have an emergency response plan that meets the minimum state requirements. The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) and the Arizona Division of Emergency Management (ADEM) are responsible for developing the minimum standards for school emergency response plans in Arizona.
The Arizona Schools Emergency Response Plan MinimumRequirements guidance document provides the required elements that must be included in every school’s emergency response plan. The standards are not a systematic guide for completing a comprehensive response plan, but rather the minimum of what to include in the plan.
FEMA Independent Study Online CoursesThe Arizona Minimum Requirements mandate that school employees who fill a role within the Incident Command System (ICS) structure are required to complete three FEMA online training: IS-100SCa: Introduction to the Incident Command System for Schools, IS-200: Applying for Single Resources and Initial Action Incidents, and IS-700: National Incident Management System (NIMS) An Introduction.
County Emergency Management On-site Training Upon completing IS-100.SCa, IS-200, and IS-700, district and school ERP teams are strongly encouraged to also complete the Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools course either through their local emergency management office or FEMA. Districts can schedule the two-day MAG-364 Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools course by submitting a DEMA (Arizona Department of Emergency and Military Affairs) training request form to the county emergency management office. There is no cost to the district for this training.
FEMA TrainingE-361 Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools Course.
Advanced Training through DEMA Upon completing FEMA’s E-361 or DEMA’s G-364, key personnel on a district’s ERP team are encouraged to also complete MAG-300 (Intermediate Incident Command Station) and MAG-400 (Advanced Incident Command Station) through DEMA.
1. What law mandates that all Arizona schools have emergency response plans in place that meet ADE Minimum Requirements?
Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS), 15-341 (A) (31) requires each school site to have an emergency response plan that meets the minimum state requirements.
2. Are there opportunities to network with school districts around the state to collaborate on the development of emergency response plans and identify best practices?
Yes. The Arizona Regional Consortiums for School Emergency Preparedness (ARCSEP) is organized into five regions in the state to include Phoenix (Central), Phoenix (East Valley), Tucson (Southern), Flagstaff (Northern), and Yuma (Western). The regional consortiums are sponsored by The Trust and meet quarterly to provide presentations on emergency preparedness topics of interest and lessons learned. Email Ivonne Garber, at Ivonne [email protected], if you would like to participate in one of the regional consortiums.
3. Are districts/schools required to use the ADE Emergency Response Template when developing their district/school plan?
No. The ADE ERP Template is provided as a service to school districts by providing a framework and outline as to what should be included in their ERP. The template incorporates many components required to be NIMS compliant.
Keep in mind that the template should not be used “as is” by simply filling in the blanks. A district/school planning team comprised of district and community partner representation should carefully “vet” template components they intend to incorporate in their plan. Specifically, action steps are included in the functional and threat/hazard annexes.
4. Who should be included in a district/school emergency response plan planning team?
It would be wise to keep your planning team to no more than 10-12 people. Small districts/schools may have a planning team of 5-7. Departments such as facilities, transportation, food services, communications office, community education, and special education are among the departments that would provide good insight on many components of the plan. A representative from each of the school levels in your district (elementary school, middle school, & high school) would also be good to include. Last but not least, community partners can include law enforcement, fire, public health, and local emergency management would be excellent contributors to a planning team.
Keep in mind that there is not one specific composition of team members for districts to put in place. It is a district decision based on the knowledge of the expertise different people can bring to the table.
Ivonne Garber, School Preparedness Specialist, School Safety & Social Wellness