Edited Version June 28, 2000 Transcript
EIIP Tech Arena Online Presentation

"PLANet: A School Crisis Plan Manager"

Eric Strohl
Executive Director
Strohl Systems Group, Inc.

Avagene Moore, Moderator
EIIP Coordinator

The original unedited transcript of the June 28, 2000 online Virtual Tech Arena presentation is available in the EIIP Virtual Library Archives (http://www.emforum.org/vlibrary/livechat.htm). The following version of the transcript has been edited for easier reading and comprehension. Typos were corrected, date/time/names attributed by the software to each input were deleted but the content of questions and responses are as stated by each participant. Answers to participants’ questions are grouped beneath the appropriate question to facilitate meaning.


Avagene Moore: Welcome to the EIIP Tech Arena!

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Background information for today's session may be found at <http://www.emforum.org/varena/000628.htm>. Please take the time to look through and read the information provided there after our session today.

We are pleased to present a Tech Arena session related to school crisis planning. Our special guest today is Eric Strohl, Executive Director of PLANet, school crisis planning and management division of Strohl Systems Group, Inc. Our speaker is no stranger to emergency/disaster work. Before joining Strohl Systems in 1995, he served in the United States Navy as a Search and Rescue Aircrew member where he coordinated search and rescue efforts for local fire, police and EMS for major natural disasters, aircraft crashes, and missing persons.

Welcome Eric, and thank you for taking the time to be with us today. I turn the floor to you now to tell us about PLANet.


Eric Strohl: Welcome everybody to today's session on PLANet, A School Crisis Plan Manager. I would like to thank Avagene and Amy for inviting me to "speak" to you today.

What is PLANet?

PLANet enables schools to build crisis management and school safety plans quickly and easily over the Internet. From acts of violence to more common incidents such as disruptive students, suicidal teens, missing children, natural disasters, and bomb threats - PLANet provides 35 expert-developed, best-practice, customizable response scripts that address just about anything that could disrupt a school day.

PLANet is an easy-to-use, intuitive planning tool that is endorsed by and developed with the input of top trauma, law enforcement, and disaster recovery experts. It is already in use by educators nationwide. Safe Schools has been a hot topic for the last few years, especially after the tragic Columbine incident, which has raised many issues regarding the preparedness of schools.

Strohl Systems recognized the need for a crisis planning and management tool designed specifically for schools. Strohl Systems product development began in 1998. In addition to its own product development team Strohl began working with three of the country's leading Critical Incident Stress Management, mental health, and law enforcement officials to develop PLANet. PLANet was officially released to the public on March 3, 2000.

Schools have many different resources for crisis management plan information and often pull information from various sources. Although there are great resources available, here are some common plan specific issues we've found when talking with other schools.

Specific issues:

1. Although schools have collected this information from a variety of resources, the information is often out of date and does not contain the necessary prevention, intervention and post-vention protocols needed to respond to an incident properly.

2. School administrators spend countless hours annually trying to maintain and update their crisis management and safety plans using methods that require duplication of plan data and do not allow changes to be made easily and efficiently.

3. Once crisis plans have been created, they are often shelved and forgotten about until something happens that can lead to decreased reaction time and "shooting from the hip" in a crisis situation.

4. Often plans are not standardized throughout the school district. When school officials have to review crisis plans, they spend hours reading binders.

We have taken all these issues and others into consideration when developing PLANet, A School Crisis Plan Manager and now invite you to learn more about PLANet. With PLANet, there are no special computers, servers or software applications needed. All schools need is an Internet connection. Once they have an Internet connection, they simply login into the PLANet web-site using a unique user name and password to begin building, updating, or printing their crisis management and safety plans.

Building a crisis plan with PLANet's intuitive interface is easy.


* Within Build My Plan, schools bring together all the elements needed within a plan, such as faculty and staff, roles and responsibilities, incidents, and optional student data.

* Print My Plan allows schools to print their entire plan or print a specific incident in the event of a crisis.

* Update My Plan allows schools to make changes and additions to their plan quickly.

* Tell Me More is just a click away and allows schools to get help with PLANet or learn more about Critical Incident Planning.

Whether schools are just beginning to plan or updating their current plans, PLANet will save school administrators time and money. Crisis planning is an ongoing process, not a one-time project. Procedures change, faculty information changes, and new students arrive throughout the school year.


It is often hard for traditional, paper-based plans to track this information. PLANet's Plan Data feature puts this information at the fingertips of those who need it fast. Need to find out what students are on a given bus route at a moment’s notice? The reporting feature lets schools generate reports on the fly by pulling the latest information out of their database, creating reports within seconds.

PLANet will also help schools standardize crisis management plans district-wide.


School administrators are very busy; they do not have the time to read thoroughly and review each school's crisis plan. And depending on who wrote the plan and how it was structured, each crisis plan will be different. PLANet's Plan Status feature also enables administrators to monitor the planning progress of all schools in a district from wherever they are.

Schools can also track the progress of incidents within their plan by clicking on the incident progress button. This feature allows school administrators to see when an incident was last modified. All crisis response/emergency management plans should provide a quick snapshot of plan contents. All plans produced with PLANet include a Table of Contents that lists all plan elements.


PLANet provides an incident action plan for each incident.


The incident action plan helps standardize responses by listing the name of the faculty member assigned to an incident, their specific role for each incident, and their contact information. The second part of the incident action plan is the incident script. Incident scripts are a serious of tasks related to a specific incident. To the right of every task is the name and role of the person responsible for this action item. We recommend that schools work with their local fire, police, and other emergency personnel to develop a response that best fits the school and local community.

Once the school has customized the incident action plans, changes are made to the script and then incorporated into the final plan. Since the launch of PLANet for Schools on March 3, 2000, we have had an overwhelming response. Schools across the nation are already using PLANet. Our goal is to give schools access to a valuable planning tool, which reduces the time it takes to build and maintain crisis response plans.

You can get further information by visiting our Web site at <http://schools.planetstrohl.com> and viewing the on-line program demonstration.

In the meantime, I would be happy to hear your comments and respond to your questions, so I will turn it back to Avagene.

[Audience Question & Answer]

Avagene Moore: Thank you for the overview and demonstration, Eric. Before we begin our interaction with the audience, may I remind you of our protocol for Q&A?

Audience please enter a question mark (?) to indicate you wish to be recognized, go ahead and compose your comment or question, but wait for recognition before hitting the Enter key or clicking on Send. We will take your questions in the order they are submitted to the screen. We now invite your questions/comments.


Maricopa County Arizona: The obvious question. What is the cost?

Eric Strohl: Of course there are costs associated with this product. Our current pricing structure is based on a per school basis and runs $2995 per school. However, we do offer district-wide pricing which is available depending upon the size of the district.


Rodney Baden: I live in tornado alley. What plans do you have for this incident?

Eric Strohl: Yes, we do have an incident script for a tornado and other natural disasters as well. Due to the nature of the information we are unable to pass this information out. However, we could talk in more detail in another conversation, if you choose.


Terry Storer: Is there a module that allows blueprint/floorplans to be placed in the plan?

Eric Strohl: Thank you, Terry. Within PLANet, schools have the ability to add floor plans, external documents pertaining to a certain school or other information such as graphics as well.


Ray Pena: It seems basically you are selling a format and a plan maintenance program. Is that a correct interpretation?

Eric Strohl: There are two answers to that question. One, PLANet is a tool to help schools manage and update their crisis response plans. Two, PLANet also offers best-practice guidelines on 35 different incidents that are fully customizable to fit every school’s needs. Does that answer your question?

Ray Pena: Yes.


Tyler Cruse: If a school district subscribes to your program, will local Police, Fire, EMA, EMS and other responding agencies have access to the school's plans?

Eric Strohl: With PLANet you will have the printed plan which remains within the school and is given out to those who are part of the plan. But you also have the opportunity to view your printed plan online once it has been developed and published using PLANet. Then you can decide whom you want to give access to your plan online via a secure user name and password.


Amy Sebring: Eric, we have had previous sessions that noted that disaster planning on college campuses could also use improvement. Are you marketing in this sector?

Eric Strohl: Yes, PLANet is designed to be used in all school K-12 and colleges and universities. We will be marketing to colleges and universities over the summer months.


Maricopa County Arizona: What is an incident script? Is that like an S.O.P.? Or a checklist?

Eric Strohl: Incident scripts are a serious of tasks related to a specific incident that gives a detailed step-by-step response to follow in the event of a crisis.


Avagene Moore: How much time is required on average to learn the software? Is there a tutorial and tech support?

Eric Strohl: There is a very small learning curve. PLANet was designed to be easy-to-use so school administrators would not have to spend time learning how to use another program. PLANet also comes with Live Support via the Internet and Technical Support over the phone.


Terry Storer: The Illinois Safe School project has developed an "Illinois Manual." Do you have any users that have integrated that manual into Planet?

Eric Strohl: Currently, no. However, other states and schools have included their manuals into their final plan by simply importing them into PLANet.


Rob McDaniel: Eric, A lesson learned from all of the recent school incidents is the lack of preventative or mitigative action taken when indicators of trouble were present before the emergency, (i.e. reported threatening behavior by a student, etc). Do your incident templates include scripts for intervention, mitigation, alert or warning?

Eric Strohl: Great question, Rob! Yes, all of PLANet's scripts contain the necessary prevention, intervention and post-vention protocols in use by mental health, law enforcement and other EMS personnel. For example, suicide has been a recent incident that has been occurring in many schools here in Pennsylvania. You have to take into account things like anniversary dates and the post-traumatic stress that occur to other children affected by the suicide, scripts do just that.


Amy Sebring: What are you using for "live support via the Internet", Eric?

Eric Strohl: The live support piece uses a similar interface like we are using for this forum today.


Cam King: Could you expand on the Tech Services? Does this mean they would be available during the disaster to provide timely advice not in the programme?

Eric Strohl: We do provide a hot-line through one of our experts who would help schools and guide them through a crisis. And it is also included in the subscription price, at no additional charge. There have been some great questions.


Rodney Baden: How do plan on interfacing your plan with current City, County, State Emergency Management Plans? How do you plan on marketing Planet in our local Waco, Texas area?

Eric Strohl: Well, it's up to the schools to decide what they want to integrate into their plans from the city, county or state level. PLANet allows them to do that easily. As I said before, users have the ability to fully customize any aspect of their plan. Regarding marketing, we will be launching a campaign over the summer to all the school districts across the nation.


David Crews: This is a follow-up to Rob McDaniels question about mitigation. Are there guides, templates, or checklists for Risk Assessment in PLANet?

Eric Strohl: Could you expand on that questions a little further please, David?

David Crews: In planning, there is usually a risk or threat assessment made which drives requirements for mitigating.

Eric Strohl: Currently there are no checklists for risk assessment. However, you can add your own to your plan.


Amy Sebring: Although schools/colleges are not specifically designated in the new NFPA 1600 standard on disasters, did you incorporate the principles in this planning assistance (noting that Pat Moore from Strohl is on the Technical Committee!)?

Eric Strohl: Pat?

Pat Moore: Whereas NFPA 1600 is generic in nature and basically a guideline for disaster recovery/emergency management and business continuity planning programs, PLANet provides specific tasks for mitigating, preventing and managing the incident or crisis.


Jim Strong: Have the lawyers reviewed the detailed plan concept from a liability standpoint?

Eric Strohl: The scripts were written to minimize the liability every school has, but it's up to the individual school to work with their own legal staff.


Maricopa County Arizona: Do you have a method, program, or a script for the schools to exercise their plan via PLANet?

Eric Strohl: Yes. Each school can use the scripts as a training mechanism to exercises their plan.


Terry Storer: Is there a "crisis chat" function that would allow "real time" information exchange between schools and administrative offices?

Eric Strohl: Not within PLANet itself, Terry. That would be a tool that would have to developed and used at the district/school level. But I will take that suggestion back to our development team. Thank you!


Michael Dorn: Our agency finds that many plans do not adequately address the family reunification process, how detailed is your protocol?

Eric Strohl: Yes, that protocol is very important and our scripts do address the process quite thoroughly. I could review that protocol with you off-line if you prefer, since we are running out of time.

Final Question:

Jim Strong: Have you looked at using state DEM's and local OEM's as "resources" for making this product available to our local ISD's?

Eric Strohl: Yes, we are looking into that right now.


Avagene Moore: We are about out of time. Thank you very much for being with us today, Eric. We wish you success with PLANet. Audience, thank you for your presence and participation. Please stand by a moment if you can while we take care of some announcements. Amy, will you tell us what's coming up for next week, please?

Amy Sebring: Thank you Avagene, and thank you Eric for sharing this information with us today. We will have a "raw" transcript up this afternoon, and a reformatted transcript next Monday which you can access via the Transcripts link on our home page under Quick Picks.

Eric Strohl: Thank you everyone for your participation and comments

Amy Sebring: Please note, for those of you in FEMA Region 8, Floyd Shoemaker has written to tell us there will be a Safe Schools Workshop, "Picking Up the Pieces: Responding to School Crises" on September 21-23, at the Radisson Hotel in Denver, CO.

Next Wed., July 5, 12 Noon EDT, we continue the Virtual Classroom Hazards Series with Consequence Management Planning for a Terrorism Incident. Our speakers will be Rick Ranous, EQE, and Dave Wheatcraft, West Virginia Office of Emergency Services. Rick will cover the organizational structure of a terrorism incident response and Dave will then explain what the West Virginia Office of Emergency Services is doing to prepare for terrorism incidents and to secure DOJ funding. Please join us then.

And in the meantime, our thanks for coming today, and have a great 4th of July holiday to all < //flagusa>. And a Happy Canada Day to our neighbors from the North! <//flagcan>. Back to you, Ava.

Avagene Moore: Thank you Amy. If there are any announcements from the floor, please pop them in now. Love the flags! Thanks to all our participants today. We will adjourn the session for now, but you are welcome to remain for open discussion. You no longer need to use question marks.