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Building a Campus Resiliency Team

Mike Johnson

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Best practices within the school community includes the utilization of a Campus Resiliency Team (CRT) or sometimes referred to as a Crisis Management Team or Emergency Action Committee, etc. This group, regardless of its title, not only convenes in response to potential or actual crisis or emergency situations, but also meets on a regular basis to plan and discuss overall safety, security and emergency preparedness policies and strategy that will lead to a more resilient organization. This wider group of stakeholders serves as a “force multiplier” for the direct hire employees charged with managing these programs on a daily basis and assists the campus directors in determining that the right assets, resources and emphasis are placed for all life-safety and business continuity programs. Convening of this group also allows the risk management personnel to seek “buy-in” from other stakeholders early in the process of strategy and policy development, making successful implementation more likely. A regular, recurring schedule of CRT meetings should be established where risk is the main topic.  Items of discussion may include safety, security, emergency preparedness, child protection, emergency communication, policy and procedure development, mitigation strategies, training and drill regimens, risk elements of off-campus travel or after-hours activities or special event planning among other topics.

The Campus Resiliency Team is responsible for working with all campus stakeholders to design, implement and manage the Emergency Planning Management (EPM) program and ensure the school is prepared to quickly deal with incidents and emergency situations and to prevent them from becoming a crisis. The number personnel assigned to the CRT depends on the size of the school but typically ranges from six to twelve.  An industry best practice would be that each position also has a designated and trained back-up.  Key suggested CRT positions include:

CRT Leader: The Head of School does not necessarily need to lead the CRT, however, the school leader selected for this critical position needs to have clear delegation of authority from the Head and/or Board to manage any incident response.  The most critical aspect of this position is to ensure that all aspects of the EPM program are maintained and that stakeholders are continuously trained on response protocols.                                                            

EPM Coordinator: The EPM Coordinator is responsible for the administrative side of the EPM program and ensures program activity is well documented, updated and coordinated across the school community.  Some of their duties would include:

o   Working with the leadership team to assign personnel to the CRT

o   Assisting the CRT with the development and vetting of appropriate emergency response protocols to counter the identified threats and hazards

 o   Scheduling and monitoring emergency response drills to ensure all stakeholders are appropriately trained

 o   Documenting all aspects of the EPM program

 o   Ensuring emergency supplies are maintained and in a state of readiness

 o   Maintaining emergency contacts

 o   Tracking and coordinating all safety/security related audits and inspections

 o   Tracking and documenting incidents 

Operations/Facilities Coordinator: The Operations Coordinator is best filled from a member of the facilities management team and would be well versed in building and maintenance operations.                                                                                                                                              

Public Information Officer: A best practice would be that the Head of School or CRT Leader not be the one designated as the main spokesperson for the public and media during an incident or crisis.  This position should be filled by a school representative who has been trained on how to deal with the press and media.                                                                                                                 

Security Coordinator: Someone from the school security staff should always serve on the CRT.                                                                                                                             

Medical Representative: The School Nurse or Counselor should always be a member of the CRT.                                                                                                                                                 

Finance Representative:  Someone who has the ability to make emergency purchases, such as a representative from the school finance office, should always be a member of the CRT.                                                                                                                                          

Athletic Director: Whoever is responsible for or works with the after-school activities program, often referred to as the Athletic Director, should be represented on the CRT.                   

Academic Leaders: One or more Principals or Assistant Principals/Deans should be assigned to the CRT as well.      

Every school should determine their CRT staffing based on their size, magnitude of threats and hazards (past and future), and level and speed of response from fire, police, HAZMAT (hazardous material), and other emergency responders.  Schools should also ensure that every position on their CRT has a dedicated back-up in the event a CRT member is not present during an incident response. While the CRT develops multi-hazard response protocols for most threat responses, many incidents still require that certain management functions be performed. The situation must be identified and assessed, a plan to deal with it developed and implemented, and the necessary resources procured and paid for.  Regardless of the size of the incident, these management functions still will apply. There are five major CRT functions that are critical for incident responses. 

These functions include:

Incident Response: Sets the incident objectives, strategies, and priorities and has overall responsibility for the incident.

Operations: Conducts operations to reach the incident response objectives.

Planning: Supports the incident action planning process by tracking resources, collecting/analyzing information, and maintaining documentation.

Logistics: Provides resources and needed services to support the achievement of the incident objectives.

Finance & Administration: Monitors costs related to the incident. Provides accounting, procurement, time recording, and cost analyses.                 

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