author Marlee Hirson, Friday August 28, 2015

The article “Plans Don’t Respond to School Emergencies, People Do” on Campus Safety Magazine highlights some very important points; in particular we agree that when faced with an emergency situation, people don’t always revert to their knowledge on safety plans and protocols. Stress and other factors are to blame, but the issue of delayed or improper responses still remains. The article focuses on K-12 but we believe that these factors affect all individuals, including post-secondary and private institution personnel.

The Problem with Comprehensive Safety Plans

Safety plans are purposefully very detailed, which is helpful in the sense that they cover all aspects of a situation. However, when it comes to application, they aren’t the best. In most cases, there is simply too much information for a staff member or university student to remember in the event of a high-stress crisis. The irony is that the more comprehensive the plan, the harder it can be for someone to process and action.

Campus Safety Magazine’s article discusses how training sessions are a necessary component of emergency preparation. Agreed - ‘Practice makes perfect’ is certainly true and although there isn’t necessarily a perfect response to an emergency situation, practice will increase effectiveness in emergency resolutions and protocols. But we also believe that it’s not just a matter of frequent training.

Mobile Accessibility

One of the objectives that we strive for in our partner institutions’ mobile safety apps is to cut down sizeable safety plans and make the information and resources available in easily digestible pieces. That way, the content can be made clearer and easier to act on. We collaborate with our clients to abbreviate their emergency plan into just the absolutely necessary content.

As well, the emergency information is more accessible. As written content in all our mobile safety apps is available offline (local content), a user does not have to have any form of data connection to access the content (assuming they have the app downloaded). Traditional PDF plans which are uploaded to institution websites are more vulnerable; if the network goes down, no one has a reference point of what to do.

Safety Requires More Than Just Planning

Naturally, the app works well in safety training exercises too, as it becomes a tool and mobile-friendly reference for when action is required. Given the accessibility of the content, it can become an important part of any training an institution is undertaking. We agree that frequent training is a big must, but we also believe that training with the right tools is crucial.

As discussed in the article, further training will ensure that faculty members are better prepared in the event of an emergency situation. But that’s just one piece. The bottom line when it comes to safety planning is that preparation goes further than just reading a large piece of content. Displaying the content in a succinct, mobile-friendly, and accessible way is crucial to being truly prepared in a crisis.

What does your emergency planning document look like? Do you also think training is important? Have you used technology to enhance emergency preparation at your institution? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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