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August 17, 2012 -
This is Casey Laughman, managing editor of Building Operating Management magazine. Today's tip is that a list of possible crisis events is an important early step in planning security and safety preparation for an educational campus.
An important early step in preparing a crisis response plan is to develop a list of possible events that could hit the campus, such as natural disasters, burglaries and violent attacks, says Gary Margolis, managing partner with Margolis Healy & Associates. Of course, the total often can top several dozen. No school has the resources to prevent every potential threat, so it's important to focus on those that are most likely to occur or inflict significant harm.
Margolis advises looking at potential security and safety events from the perspectives of vulnerability, impact and probability. For instance, how vulnerable is the campus to a tornado? Can its vulnerability be reduced by fortifying the buildings on campus?
The next step is to look at the possible impact of each threat. Clearly, tornados or school shootings typically have a greater impact than, say, a stolen laptop. On the other hand, the probability that a laptop will be stolen during any school year far exceeds the likelihood that a more serious incident will occur.
The idea is to complete this analysis for the entire list of potential threats, ranking each and developing plans for events that hit certain thresholds. And in all emergency planning, the facilities staff plays a key role. Because facilities professionals typically spend time in all areas of a campus, they usually have a good idea of who typically comes and goes, and at what times. As a result, they often are among the first to notice situations that appear out of the ordinary. According to Margolis, "they can be the eyes and ears of the institution, and that can be invaluable."