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0-07: Staff training for health/safety emergencies
6-22: Emergency supplies and equipment
6-23: Facility preparation for evacuation, lockdown, disasters
7-02: Social services, mental health support
7-04: Suicide prevention strategies
7-05: Violence prevention strategies
  > View All Chapter Guidelines  
American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress
Includes practical guidance on acute traumatic stress management and on crisis response in schools.
American Academy of Pediatrics
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Guidelines for School Health Programs
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) - Public Health Emergency Preparedness & Response
Emergency Medical Services for Children (EMS-C)
Resources available through their clearinghouse, including: Basic Emergency Lifesaving Skills (BELS): A Framework for Teaching Emergency Lifesaving Skills to Children and Adolescents.
Federal Emergency Management Agency
National Association of School Psychologists
US Department of Education - Emergency Planning
This resource from the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools provides school leaders with information to plan for many emergencies.
US Department of Education - Office of Civil Rights
Provides information on Section 504
  > View All Chapter Related Links  
4-11 - Crisis response team and plans

Establish a crisis response protocol to manage a crisis and its aftermath, including recovery.


Schools need to be prepared to address crises that have physical, emotional, social, and spiritual effects on all members of the school community. Only by preparing in advance for potential crises are schools able to come to the immediate aid of affected and vulnerable students, staff, and community members.


Possible crises include violent events, suicide, attempted suicide, serious injuries, arrest of staff for criminal conduct, natural disasters, fire, bomb threats, terrorism, hostage-taking, kidnapping, and any threatening event occurring during school activities and/or involving members of the school community.

Preparation for schools to respond to crises include partnerships with other community agencies, as appropriate (e.g., health and mental health service agencies, public health, public utilities, faith-based institutions, social service agencies, emergency medical services, fire department, police and other law enforcement agencies). Involve these agencies as well as families in developing clear written protocols for potential disasters. School personnel should be knowledgeable about these protocols and the protocols should be accessible to them. Protocols should include details of implementing an evacuation and a "lockdown" and the safest areas to evacuate building occupants for various types of disasters. Clearly identify personnel responsible for decision making and for coordinating the response to a crisis. Adequate training of school personnel and practice and testing of the responses are essential. A school crisis team should be formed to develop appropriate responses to crises and their aftermath; this team's interventions should address incidents that threaten the sense of security at a school or that are disruptive to teaching and learning.

As an example, after a suicide, school personnel and community resources must address the need for grieving and coping with feelings of loss that many in the general school population will experience. Schools also can anticipate the need to identify students at risk for "copy-cat" behavior and the need for partnerships that can assist certain students who require further evaluation and counseling services.

The US Departments of Justice and Education (39) have jointly developed guidelines for schools that help make schools safe and responsive. The Department of Education's A Guide for Schools and Communities, (132) as well as other recommended resources (see Internet Resources), guide development of prevention and response plans for crises. An Internet-accessible toolkit that guides schools on preventive measures, interventions, and staff training has been developed by the National Education Association.(101) Detailed instructions are provided for telephone trees (for staff notification), preparation of staff-lists identifying staff trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid, identification of makeshift reunion areas, prepared badges or orange jackets that enable students to identify key personnel, checklists for schools' preparedness, planning for orderly release of students, and dealing with the media. This NEA resource also addresses potentially disturbing physical reminders that might remain at school when students return after a crisis, curricula for first day back to school, and memorials. Evacuation plans and emergency supplies are covered in Guidelines 6-22 and 6-23.


American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on School Health. The role of the school nurse in providing school health services. Pediatrics. 2001;108:1231-1232.

American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on School Health. Guidelines for emergency care in school. Pediatrics. 2001; 107:435-436.

Center for Effective Collaboration and Practice, American Institutes for Research and National Association for School Psychologists. Safeguarding Our Children: an Action Guide: Implementing Early Warning, Timely Response. Washington, DC: Department of Education, Department of Justice; 2000.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. School health guidelines to prevent unintentional injuries and violence. MMWR. 2001; 50(RR-22):1-73.

King KA. Developing a comprehensive school suicide prevention program. J Sch Health. 2001;71:132-137.

Lerner MD, Shelton RD. A Practical Guide for Crisis Response in Our Schools. Commack, NY: American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, 2001.

Lerner MD, Volpe JS, Lindell B. A Practical Guide for Crisis Response in Our Schools.5th Ed. Commack, NY: American Academy of Experts in Traumatic Stress, 2003.

National Education Association. Crisis Communication Guide and Toolkit. Available at:

Passarelli C. Are you prepared for an emergency? J Sch Nurs. 1995;11:4, 6.

Pollack I, Sunderman C. Creating safe schools: a comprehensive approach. Juv Justice. 2001;8:13-20.

Reddy M, Borum R, Berglund J, Vossekuil B, Fein R, Modzeleski W. Evaluating risk for targeted violence in schools: comparing risk assessment, threat assessment, and other approaches. Psychology in the Schools. 2001;38:157-172.

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