Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Crisis Response



A crisis is a time to actually follow the crisis plan and not a time to make a plan from scratch. This module will take a look at some of the major recommendations about things to remember when you are called upon to implement your crisis plan.

Element of Surprise

Regardless of how much time and energy you put forth to create the crisis plan, there is always an element of surprise and accompanying confusion when a school deals with a crisis. Following the plan requires a very quick, but careful, assessment of the situation. Decide if a crisis really does exist and, if so, the type of crisis, location, and the magnitude. Since the team has already practiced the plan, leaders are aware and ready to make the decisions.

Respond to Crisis Immediately

When a crisis occurs, look at what the best type of action is necessary and respond within seconds. An immediate and appropriate response depends on a plan with clearly laid-out roles and responsibilities, as well as training and practice. With this proper training, staff members and students will respond appropriately within seconds.

Notify Emergency Responders and the School Crisis Response Team

Many times, school leaders tend to delay calling emergency responders, such as the police or fire departments. In the midst of a crisis, many people believe they can handle the situation in-house. However, it is better to have emergency responders on scene as soon as possible, even if administrators resolved the situation when they arrive. If you delay calling, you could potentially have further risk, injury, or damage.

Also, notifying a district’s or school’s crisis team allows them to start the necessary measures to protect the safety of everyone involved. Remember to evacuate or lockdown the school, if necessary, as soon as possible.

Triage Injuries


Remember to triage injuries and give emergency first aid to those who need it during the crisis. The plan should assign emergency medical services (EMS) personnel and school staff with relevant qualifications to determine who needs first aid. Find a location for EMS to treat the seriously injured on the scene, if necessary.

Remember to keep your supplies nearby and organized at all times. If you have to move to another location for safety reasons, remember to take the supplies with you. Monitor how many supplies you have and make sure to replace them as needed.

Trust Leadership

Trust the internal crisis team members, as well as the external emergency responders who have been trained to deal with a crisis. When you trust them, it will help calm the situation and minimize the chaos that can happen during a crisis.

During a crisis, leaders must portray a calm, confident, and serious demeanor to assure people the seriousness of the situation and their wisdom of the directions given at the time. This leadership style will help everyone involved to respond in a calm and confident manner as well.

Communicate Accurate & Appropriate Information

During a crisis, school leaders must communicate both with the school community and the community at large. Use the channels of communication laid out in your plan. For example, all information released to the media should come directly from a public information officer or an appointed spokesperson.

The crisis team should communicate on a regular basis with staff who are managing students during a crisis. A school’s most important responsibility is the safety of the students. It cannot be fulfilled during a crisis without timely and accurate information to those caring for them. Families need to know that a crisis has occurred, and all the possible steps are being taken to protect the safety of their children. At some point, families will also need to know when and where they can pick up their kids.

Allow For Flexibility


It is impossible for any crisis plan to address each and every situation that can happen during a real crisis. With proper training and practice, emergency responders and staff will be able to respond appropriately and timely and to adapt the school crisis plans to the specific situation.

Document, Document, Document

This is a very important step. Make sure you write down every action taken during the response. This will provide a clear record of appropriate implementation of the crisis plan. You also need to record any damage for insurance purposes and track financial expenditures related to the incident. Keep all original notes and records, as they are legal documents.


Before beginning this quiz, we highly recommend you review the module material. This quiz is designed to allow you to self-check your comprehension of the module content, but only focuses on key concepts and ideas.

Read each question carefully. Select the best answer, even if more than one answer seems possible. When done, click on the "Get Quiz Answers" button. If you do not answer all the questions, you will receive an error message.

Good luck!

1. When a crisis occurs, respond within _____.

2. Why do some school leaders tend to delay in calling emergency responders, such as the police or fire departments?

3. What is a school’s most important responsibility during a crisis?

4. Why is documentation such an important step during a crisis?

5. What could happen if you delay calling authorities during a crisis?

Have a great day!

Important! You will receive an "error" message unless all questions are answered.