Unrealistic Emergency Plans Can Hurt You
Don’t set your people up for failure by creating plans they can’t carry out.
While evaluating a school crisis plan for a client yesterday, I noticed a potential problem that I find in the majority of plans we evaluate. This plan included a number of affirmative and inflexible statements to indicate that employees would always perform certain actions that are probably unrealistic.
For example, the plans stated that all employees always wear their staff identification cards. While this is an ideal goal and the wearing of photo ID badges is a critical part of a reasonably reliable approach to access control for a K12 school, in a court of law, the wording can be taken to indicate that the district has achieved and will maintain 100 percent compliance with this policy.
We also routinely find numerous references indicating that all persons in a given category will be evacuated and accounted for during emergencies. Given the chaotic nature of crises and how quickly some types of emergency situations develop, it is not always possible to ensure the safe evacuation of every person in a facility. In fact, in some instances, a staff member could inadvertently allow the serious injury and/or deaths of a number of students because they try to locate one or two students and miss the opportunity to move a large number of students to safety. In such a case, the primary concern is a missed opportunity to protect a larger number of people from harm rather than exposure to civil liability.
Take the time to evaluate your organization’s written safety, security and emergency preparedness plans for statements that are beyond the ability of your staff to actually carry out. Doing so may not only prevent needless exposure to civil liability, but more importantly save lives.
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