4 Emergency Response Plan Principles: Prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery

An emergency response plan is the organizing, coordinating, and directing of available resources in order to ensure emergency preparedness and bring the emergency under control. The U.S. Department of Education outlines emergency planning by focusing on four principles: prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. This plan should cover a broad range of potential safety incidents with specific procedures for everyone involved. While not an exhaustive list, these details should include essential information like where to evacuate and how to regroup when separated.


Before an emergency occurs, you want to conduct a risk assessment to identify potential emergency scenarios. Once the risk assessment reveals needs, preparations can begin. DOE recommends schools go through a safety audit to ensure buildings and school grounds are up to code. Several states that are prone to dangerous weather have to account for severe weather conditions, such as earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes, ice, snow, sleet, and tornadoes. These all require various levels of code requirements for buildings.


Procedures should be developed to account for students, map out exits, and communicate plans with staff during a safety incident event. Everyone who visits your facilities, including employees, visitors, contractors, parents, volunteers, and anyone else in the facility will need to be accounted for.


Saving lives is the number one priority in responding to an emergency. Administrators must determine whether there is a safety incident and what procedures need to be followed after activating the emergency response plan. Trained staff can administer CPR/First Aid, use a fire extinguisher to put out small fires, or contain small chemical spills.

Recovery The plan should also include a process for damage assessment, salvage, protection of undamaged property and cleanup following an incident. Once the incident is over, administrators must return everything back to normal. They should reflect on the incident and decide if procedures and policies require revision.

This is only a guideline for schools to follow. Though FEMA provides a checklist for emergency management plans, there are no standard requirements.

Improving Communication by Going Mobile

42% of schools feature a self-imposed emergency plan. 52% of them plan to invest in improving their current systems based on recent events.

While schools do reach out to inform parents of a safety incident, this is typically only done after the fact. With prevalent smartphone use, it’s interesting to note that not many schools use them to communicate in real-time with parents during an event.

Higher education institutions are putting mobile notifications in place. Several universities allow students, faculty, and parents to opt-in to text notifications about things such as school emergencies or inclement weather.

Since major events regarding incidents in schools, technology has changed. Information travels faster because of smart phones. A school district in Northwest Ohio began to implement a lockdown plan that alerts and informs faculty, students, and parents in the event of a situation by telling them what’s happening and to avoid certain areas.

You’ve Planned and You’re Prepared with SchoolDude

Because there is no one-size-fits-all for emergency response plans, it’s important to set one up that is tailored for each school.

SchoolDude provides safety incident solutions for schools to create their own plans. SchoolDude’s safety solutions are highly interactive by providing visuals to those in the epicenter and communicating updates via text messages.

  • Publish custom safety plans to smartphones
  • Immediately access plans during a safety incident
  • Update plans
  • Arm faculty and staff with tools to stay safe

In a safety incident, time is a factor; with these plans, not a single second is lost.

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