Regional School Emergency Preparedness Seminars

Kicking off what looks to become an annual forum, CHHS staff supported three National Capital Region (NCR) School Emergency Preparedness Seminars this spring in Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia. Principals and administrators from public, independent, and private K-12 schools in the NCR joined local law enforcement and emergency management officials to discuss current trends, technology, and response tactics when facing crises in schools. More than 500 people joined the three seminars, far exceeding original attendance expectations.

Each seminar gave participants a chance to network, hear from public safety and emergency management experts, as well as learn from administrators who have dealt with natural and man-made disasters in a school setting first-hand. A question and answer portion of each session allowed for open discussion of major issues threatening school safety today. The seminars also set the stage for developing regional plans and strategies to respond to potential future threats.

CHHS Senior Policy Analyst Mehrab Karim, working through the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (MWCOG) National Capital Regional Planners, led the year-long planning effort. Senior Law and Policy Analysts Raymond Shin and Ellen Cornelius were also members of the planning team, while Vernon Herron, Senior Policy Analyst, moderated each session. The Center’s Exercise and Training staff evaluated the discussions and provided feedback for an Executive Summary.

Following the three-part forum, Karim shared outcomes with other emergency management professionals during a presentation at the 2014 Maryland Emergency Management Association Conference in May.

Plans for 2015 regional school emergency preparedness initiatives are currently underway. Building upon lessons learned at each seminar, key discussion points, and survey responses, the Regional Planners intend to improve outreach to schools, while sharing preparedness best practices even more widely across the region.

This text is taken from the CHHS Fall 2014 Newsletter

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