POLICE Magazine Supplements

Special Report 2018

Magazine for police and law enforcement

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SPECIAL REPORT: KEEPING SCHOOLS SAFE 13 ing with the school evacuation. To let loved ones know where to go in the first place, you can take advantage of the school's process for parent notifications already in place. You can also spread the message with assis- tance from the media, including radio and television stations reporting on the incident. While parents are waiting for infor- mation, it's a good idea to have a law enforcement spokesper- son on hand at their location or one nearby to deliver updates about what to expect and what is happening as quickly as pos- sible while ensuring accuracy. ese steps help calm the students' loved ones, who are al- ready fearing the worst. "Our imagination is our worst enemy. at's what drives our emotion. So providing info as quickly and accurately as you can is important," says Eells. "You're walking a fine line with giving them information, but not want- ing to mislead people by not having accurate information." Some of the most important information families can receive is about whether their children are uninjured, injured, or de- ceased, so it's essential that this be accurate. It's best for school staff to be involved in the collection and dissemination of this information because they know the families and students best and have school rosters that they can refer to, Eells points out. If students are physically uninjured and just need to be reconnected with their families once they have been inter- viewed, the process is relatively simple, especially with the help of school personnel. But to help ease the psychological and emotional toll on them, it's a good idea to bring counselors who work for law enforcement agencies and victim advocates to the scene so they can talk to the families about resources available to them and their children in the days following the incident. Similar resources should be provided to the families of students who have been injured or are deceased, as well as providing transportation from the scene so they aren't driving in an emotional state. "e event is more likely to unfold in the safest manner if it's been made clear through preplanning, practice, and effective communication, exactly where the rally points and evacuation places are," says Eells. And if everyone understands their roles and why they need to follow certain procedures, they're more likely to follow them in the event of an emergency. H ILLUSTRATION: GETTY IMAGES freeinfo.policemag.com/796316

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