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ERIC Number: ED494842
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2006
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Lessons Learned from School Crises and Emergencies, Vol. 1, Issue 2, Fall 2006
US Department of Education
"Lessons Learned" is a series of publications that are a brief recounting of actual school emergencies and crises. School and student names have been changed to protect identities. Information for this publication was gathered through a series of interviews with school stakeholders involved in the actual incident. This "Lessons Learned" issue addresses how to respond when multiple deaths in a school community occur and how the school can help the healing process. A tragic automobile accident takes the lives of seven middle school students riding in a car taken without permission. The young driver lost control of the speeding vehicle, and crashed into a tree. None of the students was of legal driving age or was carrying identification. The ringing of a cell phone from an inquiring parent, alerted the police on the scene to the identity of the teens. The accident had a profound effect on the students' families, friends, peers and school community. Although the incident was managed effectively, some aspects of the response could have been strengthened if the district had had an emergency management plan in place prior to the accident. The event underscored the school's need to have a comprehensive plan to serve the immediate, intermediate and long-term needs of the entire school community when faced with emergencies or other crises. A crisis team was quickly assembled that met to implement goals and activities to support the schools students and staff members. The team was organized into groups and directed to: (1) Dispel rumors about the accident and the students involved; (2) Support the main office in responding to calls from families and media; (3) Offer teachers and families tools and resources to help them address student needs; (4) Provide short-term counseling for students and identify students who might need more extensive assistance to meet their emotional, spiritual and mental health needs; (5) Coordinate volunteers; and (6) Help teachers to restore the learning environment. The experiences of the specific district, middle school and community mentioned in this newsletter highlight the critical need for emergency management planning, despite the unpredictable and uncontrollable nature of any emergency. By developing a step-by-step plan that clarifies tasks to be performed before, during and after a crisis, schools and school districts can capitalize on the strengths of both professionals and volunteers rather than spending time directly after an incident creating protocols and procedures from scratch. [This publication was produced by The Emergency Response and Crisis Management (ERCM) Technical Assistance (TA) Center.]
US Department of Education. Available from: ED Pubs. P.O. Box 1398, Jessup, MD 20794-1398. Tel: 877-433-7827; Fax: 301-470-1244; Web site:
Publication Type: Collected Works - Serial; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Department of Education, Washington, DC.