Evolving Drills to Match Campus Threats
- By Sydny Shepard
- August 01, 2018
Drills designed to prepare students
for an emergency situation
are not new. Many
schools have drills to teach
students what to do in the
event of a fire, tornado or earthquake. For
many years, campuses believed these drills
encompassed the entire gamut of threats that
could endanger students, faculty and staff on
their campus. Today, the threats are evolving
and so are the drills.
The definition of a lockdown varies by the
campus facilitating the procedure. For the
most part, if a facility is in lockdown, all exterior
doors are locked and those inside are
asked to stay there until there is no longer a
threat. There are varying degrees of lockdowns,
from exterior doors being locked but
motion inside the building, to a complete and
total lockdown where everyone is silent and
still, hiding from potential threats.
Campus lockdowns have evolved since the
tragedies of Columbine and Sandy Hook.
Before these school shootings, campuses had
a vague plan for staff to carry through if an
unauthorized visitor gained access to the area,
but the plans were never thought out, practiced
or communicated to the entire campus.
Many campuses had the mentality of “not
at my school.” They never believed an active
assailant would gain access to their campus.
The threat of an active shooter has become so
prevalent that lockdown procedures have
begun to evolve and shape into what we see in
The cover story of this issue is all about
developing an effective lockdown procedure
for your campus. The article focuses creating
a plan that works best for your facility, taking
into account several variables from entry
points to paths of travel and even activities
happening outside of the building. Schools
and universities must think through every
possible scenario when it comes to creating a
comprehensive lockdown procedure.
One of the most important tips from the
article is about communication. Those on
campus will not know to initiate a campus
lockdown procedure if they don’t know there
is a threat to the building. Advanced campus
technology has helped schools, universities,
colleges and medical facilities integrate communication
of emergency incidents into their
comprehensive security systems, making it
easier to warn administration, teachers and
students of threats. Automate messages to
your staff and to first responders so that communicating
an emergency on campus is a fast
and efficient process.
Another important piece of advice from
the article is practice, practice, practice.
Schools can properly plan lockdowns on
paper, but faculty, staff and administration
need to rehearse the lockdown procedure for
it to be effective.
Don’t just let teachers mindlessly lock their
doors and scoot children into the corner of
the room during a drill, give them obstacles
and problems to solve during drills so their
decision making skills are sharp in the event
of an emergency situation. All emergency
situations are different, so why have cookie
There is a whole generation of students
out there who will never know what it was
like to only have to stuff themselves under a
desk in case of a tornado, or create beelines
to evacuate in case of a fire. This generation
knows and will anticipate the very real
threat of another human coming to their
school with the sole intent to harm other
people. I don’t know if I, in my formative
years, could have handled that kind of fear.
Could you have?
This article originally appeared in the August 2018 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.