Colorado Takes Leap Forward in School Emergency Preparedness

Recently passed legislation requiring NIMS compliance, communications interoperability and MOUs promises to make K-12 campuses in the Rocky Mountain State better able to respond to crises.

This groundbreaking legislation will assist schools in dramatically improving safety and the level of emergency preparedness. SB08-181 is designed to help schools continue to improve their level of emergency preparedness in a meaningful, achievable manner tailored to local risks, resources and realities. Key requirements of this legislation include:

  • Formalized memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with community partners: MOUs are written agreements outlining roles, responsibilities and use of resources during a crisis between collaborating organizations.


  • NIMS-based progressive exercise program: A thoughtful and progressive drill program tailored to the school environment is one of the most effective ways to help test school plans, procedures and equipment. SB08-181 embraces this concept as a way to carry out the implementation of NIMS in a realistic manner.


  • Interoperable communications: In a number of emergencies, school and public safety officials have reported difficulty in resolving a crisis due to their inability to talk to one another via radio systems. A significant part of the support initiative for SB08-181 involves educating schools and community partners regarding new concepts and technologies making interoperable communications more feasible for schools.

By defining and requiring NIMS compliance for K-12 schools, SB08-181 is a major step in continuing the efforts of Colorado educators and their community partners to prepare for major crisis events. The legislation focuses on informing, planning, training, communications equipment maintenance, and coordination of drills and exercises.

While a number of other states have significant programs to assist schools in implementing NIMS, Colorado is the first state to use the legislative process to articulate such a detailed NIMS culture for its K-12 campuses. As we have seen, emergencies have impacted many schools located in communities considered to be safe. Your efforts to become NIMS compliant could one day save lives.

I applaud the efforts of the Colorado legislature to further protect its most precious natural resource – its children.

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An internationally recognized authority on campus safety and the author of 19 books on the topic, Michael Dorn is the senior public safety and emergency management analyst for Jane’s Consultancy. Dorn, a member of the Campus Safety Advisory Council, works with a team of campus safety experts to make campuses safer around the globe through Jane’s offices in nine countries. He can be reached at


About the Author


Michael Dorn serves as the Executive Director of Safe Havens International, a global non profit campus safety center. During his 30 year campus safety career, Michael has served as a university police officer, corporal, sergeant and lieutenant. He served as a school system police chief for ten years before being appointed the lead expert for the nation's largest state government K-20 school safety center. The author of 25 books on school safety, his work has taken him to Central America, Mexico, Canada, Europe, Asia, South Africa and the Middle East. Michael welcomes comments, questions or requests for clarification at Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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