EIIP Virtual Forum Presentation — February 28, 2007

ASTM Standard Guide for School Preparedness
And All Hazard Response

Kay C. Goss, CEM®
Co-Chair, Task Group on School Preparedness
Committee E54.02 on Emergency Preparedness, Training, & Procedures
ASTM International

Avagene Moore
EIIP Moderator

The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. A raw, unedited transcript is available from our archives. See our home page at http://www.emforum.org

[Welcome / Introduction]

Avagene Moore: Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! Amy Sebring, my associate, and I are delighted to see each of you here today. Our session title is "Standard Guide for School Preparedness and All Hazard Response," currently under development by the ASTM International E54.2 Technical Committee on Emergency Preparedness, Training, & Procedures.

We are very pleased to welcome back our speaker today. She was with us quite some time ago and she will tell you more about her experience in her opening remarks. Kay C. Goss, CEM®, serves as co-chair of the ASTM Task Group on School Preparedness. She is very well known in the emergency management community.

Ms. Goss previously served as Associate FEMA Director in charge of National Preparedness, Training and Exercises during the Clinton administration, and is currently in her sixth year serving as Senior Advisor for Public Safety and Security Government Solutions, including Homeland Security, Emergency Management, and Business Continuity, at Electronic Data Systems Corporation (EDS). Among her numerous professional activities, she is the author of the forthcoming Handbook on Emergency Management, published by Oklahoma State University. Please take the time to read all of Kay's bio on the background page after our session.

Needless to say, our speaker is a very busy lady and we are pleased to introduce you to our audience, Kay. Welcome to the EIIP Virtual Forum! I now turn the floor to you. [Due to connectivity issues, Kay’s remarks were input by Amy Sebring, and Rick Tobin, co-chair of the Task Group assisted with responding to questions.]


Kay Goss: Welcome to the forum! This is my second appearance on the forum, since one that I did a long time ago, while I was at FEMA. I did that one with a lot of help from my information technology staff guru, Chip Hines, at the time. So, this is my first one on my own. Hopefully, I will make Chip, Avagene, and Amy proud.

Our topic today is a very important one. Our children are our future. Our communities revolve around our schools. No work in emergency preparedness is more crucial. Many educators and emergency services personnel throughout the country are working hard to enhance the safety and security of our students, faculty, facilities, administrators, and staff. It is impossible for learning to occur, if there is not a secure feeling of safety surrounding the school environment.

"A crisis can occur anywhere at any time. The need to develop a comprehensive crisis management plan should be at the top of any school district’s agenda." -- Craig Beck, National School Safety Center

NFPA, ANSI, and ASTM are standards setting organizations and have been leading the way in standards in many different areas of emergency management, fire service, homeland security, and business continuity for many years.

The US Department of Education’s Safe and Drug Free Schools provides an excellent model emergency plan and guidance for schools, best practices, and other helpful information, as well as funding for emergency preparedness and response programs for school districts across the nation. Emergency planners and trainers at the DHS NIMS Integration Center provide general guidance.

School officials need all the help they can get because they not only are charged with providing world class education to our children, they are faced with risks, hazards, vulnerabilities, and threats from natural, technological, and human induced emergencies and disasters, plus the continuing challenges of:

  • Gangs
  • Drugs
  • Weapons
  • Theft
  • Assaults
  • Domestic Violence
  • Strangers on Campus
  • Truancy

We in the emergency management/homeland security community/law enforcement/emergency medical services professions need to do all we can to support their efforts and to provide our services.

ASTM E-54.02 WK8908 Work Group is composed of emergency managers and planners, government officials, as well as educators. It is co-chaired by me, Rick Tobin, and Joe Adams, both of whom are online with us today, I hope, especially since I am going to refer all of your toughest questions to them. Just kidding, guys! Our ASTM leader is Dr. Robert Stenner, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Battelle Northwest, Richland, WA.

Our mission is to create a new ASTM Standard Guide for schools and school systems for school emergency preparedness and the emergency management of incident and disaster response using the "All Hazards" approach for emergency planning, prevention, mitigation, response, and recovery in the historic ASTM format.

As we envision the guide, it would cover concepts, principles and best practices for all-hazards integrated emergency management programs in all phases of emergency management for schools and school districts. The guide would address the essential elements of the scope, planning, structure, application and integration of federal, state, local, private sector, nonprofit volunteer and non-governmental organizations and resources necessary to facilitate interoperability and seamless participation by response agencies both inside and outside the actual school/district.

The guide would provide a common operating terminology for the school environment from both emergency management (EM) and continuity of operations planning (COOP) perspectives. The guide would provide a framework for school/district management and leadership, consistent with the National Incident Management System (NIMS), the National Response Plan (NRP), NFPA 1600, as well as providing guidance for the synchronization with the local city, county, and state emergency operations plans (EOP).

We will not attempt to address the entire myriad of safety concerns, unique situations, and individual threats and / or remedies. In these special circumstances, the user would establish appropriate safety and health practices in accordance with their own state laws, experience, and unique needs and challenges.

We have learned a lot from the school incidents that have occurred over the last couple of decades, and especially since Columbine, when Bill Models and his staff at the US Department of Education, along with FEMA, the Department of Justice, and others starting working closely on policy and programs to support schools in these challenges, starting with Project SERV (School Emergency Response to Violence).

Many stories touch us deeply and convince us of the urgency of the situation:

  • Red Lake, Minnesota in March 2005, where the Chief's son was the culprit and the Tribal healing process included him, as well as the survivors.
  • Katrina student evacuees in 2005 are now in all 50 states and have told their new classmates and new friends of their once in a lifetime experiences.
  • When a US Congressman visited the graves of the students who lost their lives in Belsan, Russian in the September 2004 attack, he saw that the Columbine High School students had already sent flowers for each of the graves of the victims buried together in a cemetery near the school.
  • 2,300 teachers and 45,000 students killed in the tsunami in Indonesia on December 26, 2004.
  • Thousands of schools destroyed throughout Asia and Africa that day.
  • 10,000 teachers killed in Sri Lanka alone.
  • No teachers or students survived in a school in Aceh.
  • Hundreds of schools destroyed in Katrina.
  • Many college and university campuses devastated.
  • Recovery will take decades.
  • More Louisiana students outside of the State than inside, last I checked.
  • Some students will never get back to their original schools or colleges.

NFPA, EMAP, and ASTM Standards are quite similar in process and purpose. Our efforts with schools will reinforce NFPA 1600 on Emergency Management and Business Continuity, as well as NIMS, NRP, and the National Preparedness Goals, covering:

  • Finance and Administration
  • Law and Authorities
  • Program Management
  • Resource Management
  • Planning
  • Mutual Aid
  • Training
  • Exercises
  • Risk Assessments
  • Hazard Mitigation
  • Direction, Command and Control
  • Public Communications
  • Alerts, Notifications, Warnings
  • Logistics and Facilities

Our hope is that this guidance will not only help schools and school districts prepare and mitigate against disaster, but also harden their installations to crime and violence in addition to all other hazards.

The key players in the process of setting up an effective emergency operating plan for schools are:

  • Students
  • Administrators
  • Teachers
  • Law Enforcement
  • Fire
  • EMS
  • Emergency Management
  • Public Health
  • Parents
  • Private Sector
  • Nonprofits

When would emergency plans be in effect?

  • School hours
  • To and from school
  • After school events
  • Field trips
  • When a school must be converted for care and shelter operations

Risk Assessments and Site Surveys:

  • Security and safety related policies of the district
  • Floor plan
  • Site plan
  • School crime reports
  • Log of "calls for service"
  • Disciplinary files
  • Maps (ingress & egress)
  • Photos (aerial & interior)
  • Keys
  • Phone numbers & phone locations
  • Tactical information
  • Target hardening
  • Hazardous Materials

School Evacuation Planning:

  • School EOP (Digital / Hard Copy)
  • Sign-out sheets or student release
  • Copy of site survey info
  • Emergency contact cards
  • Most recent yearbook
  • Transportation routes and info
  • Staff emergency contact info

School Emergency Evacuation Kit:

  • Flashlight and batteries
  • Change for pay phone
  • Radio, cell phones
  • Clipboards, paper, pencils, pens
  • First aid kit
  • Current county phone book

Family Reunification Planning:

  • Establishing a reunification area, on campus/off campus
  • Documentation and accountability
  • Debriefing
  • Parent information

Who gets trained?

  • All School Personnel
  • Bus Drivers
  • Substitute teachers
  • Maintenance staff
  • Superintendent’s staff
  • Public Safety Agency Personnel
  • Community Service Agency Personnel
  • Parents
  • Mental Health Providers
  • Media

These are some of issues this effort will cover and we look forward to and seek your input now and along the way. Also, before I close my formal remarks, I would like to invite any and all of you to present papers at the upcoming US China Conference on Security and Disaster Management. It is scheduled for August 1 – 4, 2007, in Beijing. If you are interested in more details, please let me know at [email protected]. That completes my formal remarks and I will turn it back over to our moderator.

Avagene Moore: Thank you for a fine presentation, Kay.

[Audience Questions & Answers]

Bill Whitman: Currently I am Director of Public Safety at Lake Superior State in Michigan; however, previously I was the Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police at a 10,000 student school district out side of Philadelphia, PA. Then, and even today working as a consultant, I have found that school administrators will do only what is mandated when it comes to All-Hazard Emergency Preparedness because they have no time for anything beyond what they are being held accountable for. Because of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), their full attention is focused on academic performance, understandably. So is there any effort to mandate the standards, because from my significant experience ONLY mandated standards will be addressed, especially drilling? Kay, the comprehensive approach you have outlined today, and everything else you have said today is right on the mark. But getting individual school districts to do it is another thing. How can you help?

Rick Tobin: First, ASTM is responsible for the publication and distribution of the standard. The current developers are not building a standard that has regulatory authority. It is the recommendation of best practices. The Department of Education is truly a font of information and guidance that will, we hope, support implementation of these standards in U.S. schools, but they do not have the force of law.

Ray Melberg: What are some practical emergency scenarios for exercise of the school emergency system?

Rick Tobin: Although that question is more in the detail level beyond the standard, I'm sure the standard set of exercises now offered by the Department of Homeland Security will be suggested as a starting point. Since each school is unique, they must evaluate what is appropriate based on their own risk assessment findings. The practicality will really be based then on need related to the risk assessment.

Theresa Tamash: What role do you think students should play? Do you think they should be part of plans for training or exercises? We always did fire drills in school, but no other exercise type activities.

Rick Tobin: How the role of students is identified is still to be developed within the work group subcommittee for Best Practices. I can't speak for that subcommittee as their work is now in progress and not fully developed. However, from my own practical experience, I cannot imagine not having some student involvement. It is very common to see student volunteers in full scale exercises throughout the United States.

Dorothy Miller:
I have a comment for Theresa. She asks about student involvement. The best program that I can think of is Teen CERT

Justin Drittler: Is there a timeline of when the plan will be finished?

Rick Tobin: The Work Group has a Master Schedule. Our target is to have a "straw man" draft out to key stakeholders for a general first review by July. After that is returned and evaluated, a more complete document will be crafted and then sent to ASTM for their "balloting" process, which is very robust. That requires another set of very intensive reviews by key organizations. If the schedule holds as now written, subject to other impacts as we are all volunteers, we hope to have an approved standard late this year, or very early 2008.

Anshu Sharma: Is there any specific work being done on school safety for children and teachers with disabilities?

Rick Tobin: I want to preface that I do not have the answer to every question on school preparedness, so forgive my ignorance in specific areas. However, I know from experience that all school districts have wrestled with the Americans with Disabilities Act since its inception in both implementation by detail and by intent. There has been a great deal of safety planning that addressed ADA issues. If the participants would like, I can try to get a follow up on some contacts, but at the moment I cannot give you a specific reference.

James Stoddard: Under the section, "Who Gets Trained", you listed the media. Could you please explain how you plan on training the media?

Rick Tobin: Okay. As to the media when we discuss training we do not mean in the true classroom sense. Let us relate it more to the term awareness and familiarization. One might also use the term "embedding" to ensure they understand how the schools will operate in crisis. This can be completed through outreach materials and meetings with key radio, television, and print media representatives in the community on an annual basis, including inviting them to cover exercises, since that is news and that is their business. We don't train and test the media in classrooms. That was not the intent of the term training here.

Guy Groomer: I have trouble getting funding for fire extinguisher annual maintenance. Any suggestions for getting funding to help on such a huge project?

Rick Tobin: That is a terrific question, and gets to the heart of the matter. There are some very fiscally, cash flush school districts, but they are the very rare case. Most school districts struggle to squeeze every dime they've got, and much now goes just for basic infrastructure and maintenance. It can be very hard to get through the many voices asking for funding, which is why those in the school districts and schools must form strong community collaborations and also seek funds from a variety of sources, including those that are non-traditional. It is becoming more and more common that schools that have exhausted all sources to make efforts in forming partnership with private sector interests, not just public sector funding sources.

Elizabeth Hendrick: How can I get a copy of the draft ASTM standard when it becomes available?

Rick Tobin: As far as the ASTM standard, it is distributed through ASTM. All of the Standards organizations continue to operate through the sales and distribution of their standards documents, as those of you who buy copies of NFPA 1600, for example, are aware. ASTM has a web site and store that allows on line purchases of their standards. The draft, however, will be sent to selected stakeholders. If you wish to be part of that list, please contact Kay and she will coordinate including you in the review process.

Dean Larson: How does this standard apply to colleges and universities?

Rick Tobin: Dean, we wrestled with the considerations of the wide scope of types of educational facilities early in the process. It was difficult, but clear, that technical schools, colleges, universities, trade schools, etc., all had diverse needs, even though there are innate similarities. So, the standard we are working on was refocused to be only for K-12 schools. We realize additional guidance is appropriate, but we had to limit the scope in order to be effective.

Rick Hager: Will the NIMS terminology be the standard language for use in incident command situations? If so, there are many implications for training to all responders and school personnel. Comments?

Kay Goss: Yes, I think that the more similar the language in all of these standards and guidance, the better, just as a general rule, so as to minimize confusion and misunderstandings and maximize the value of the existing training.

Amy Sebring: Kay, if we send you the transcript later on today, can you please look it over and add anything you wish to Rick's responses, and return? We are very grateful to Rick for pinch hitting today!

Kay Goss: Absolutely. No kidding, Rick, you are the best!

Guy Groomer: Can NIMS be taught to school Administrators from the on-line training or does it have to be by a certified teacher?

Kay Goss: We have not gotten around to discussing that. However, I would like to know what your opinion on that subject is. In the meantime, my inclination is that the mode of delivery is not as important as the substance.

Guy Groomer: I believe that substance is the key. Anyone can understand it if they go to the web training. I also believe that all school administrative types need it to reduce confusion in the heat of a problem.

Kay Goss: I strongly agree, Guy! I think it answers a lot of problems. Also, it is much easier than they anticipate.


Avagene Moore: That is all the time we have today. Thank you, Kay, for your time and effort and for the good information! Sorry for your technical difficulties but you didn't give up!! Rick Tobin, we are grateful you were here today!

If I may before we close, if you would like to be alerted to future Virtual Forum topics and are not on the EIIP Mail List, please subscribe by going to the EIIP Virtual Forum homepage. If interested in partnering with the EIIP, please see the "Partnership for You" link. Again, the transcript of today's session will be available later this afternoon and a notice will go to our Mail List when it is posted.

Please join us next time, Wednesday, March 14, for a session on the Business Executives for National Security (BENS) Task Force Report on the use of Private Sector Resources.

Kay Goss: I look forward to reading the transcript and I really appreciate everyone's participation and input in this extremely important topic!

Avagene Moore: Before we sign off, please help me thank our speaker, Kay Goss, for her presentation. And thanks to you, the audience, for your presence and participation. The EIIP Virtual Forum is adjourned!