Campus Safety Voices Podcast: Conducting Emergency Drills with a School Security Expert
In our very first episode of Campus Safety Voices, a school security expert discusses leading practices for conducting emergency tabletop exercises.
Campus Safety Voices will feature important and timely conversations with those charged with the public safety and security of schools, universities, and healthcare facilities. We will speak on a wide range of topics with a diverse mix of campus security professionals, including emergency managers, campus police, security consultants and analysts, hospital security directors, Clery and Title IX investigators, and technology experts and providers — just to name a few.
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For our first episode, Paul Timm, physical security consultant and Vice President of Facilities Engineering Associates, discusses leading practices for conducting emergency tabletop exercises. Whether working at K-12 schools, colleges or hospitals, scenario-based training exercises, often referred to as tabletop exercises, are an effective way to improve campus safety and security by bringing together a wide variety of stakeholders to test a school or campus’ emergency plans.
“A tabletop exercise is a really great get-your-feet-wet kind of way to practice,” says Timm, who has led tabletop exercises at several Campus Safety Conferences. “It is where we can gather the relevant stakeholders around a table and then throw out a scenario and ask those stakeholders to tell us how they would respond given that scenario. We don’t want to fail during a real situation, we want to fail during a simulation, a drill or an exercise of some kind so that we can identify our vulnerabilities and decide how we want to prioritize those.”
Timm has an extensive background in helping school officials prepare for emergencies and improve their security. He served as the president of the security consulting firm RETA Security until 2005 when it got acquired by Facilities Engineering Associates, and he still travels the country providing training assessments and technical assistance to schools and businesses.
“We don’t want to fail during a real situation, we want to fail during a simulation, a drill or an exercise of some kind so that we can identify our vulnerabilities and decide how we want to prioritize those,” Timm adds.
This podcast covers the basics of what goes into a successful emergency drill: How officials should hold their first drill, who should be involved, and what they should consider. The interview offers insights for any school, college and hospital official, whether they’re looking to hold a simple tabletop walk-through or a much larger emergency exercise.
Also, if you are interested in conducting a tabletop exercise but aren’t sure where to start, we’ve launched a multi-part scenario-based training series that includes real-life incidents that occurred at K-12 schools, how the incident was handled, and an after-action review of the response.
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