San Bernardino suffered another crisis today. By now most know an elementary school was attacked, and everyone in my office watched to see how it unfolded. We watch for a few reasons, the first is to see if there is any way we can help as field specialists, the second is to see if this impacts any of our current clients, and the third is to see what we can learn from the situation to help our own education.
While I am certain I will end up drafting more pieces on today’s crisis there is something I noticed immediately based on the various news sites covering the tragic event. Every parent knew two people were dead from the news, and two more in critical condition, but no one knew if their child was among those. As a parent I know your mind immediately goes to the worst and everyone assumes it’s their child. This is not the way to build a community or to foster trust in the school system. A simple protocol can ease every parent’s mind.
When dealing with your crisis notification protocol your first step has to be engaging the parents. This can be done with any of the mass notification systems out there; although I have a few favorites with Titan HST at the top of my current list. Let them know that their children are safe, protected and will be brought to them at a specific location and time. Details are the key here. They need to be given specific and easy directions as they are not thinking clearly.
They also need to be told in no uncertain terms that if their child is injured they will be notified immediately, and that if they are not notified in the next 15 minutes their children will meet them later. Simply put there is no reason for it to take more than 15 minutes to notify parents of injured children and where they should go. Your police liaison for the school will know the information already, the Principal will know the information at this point, it is just a matter of notification.
Once the other parents understand this, and accept their children are safe, they will be much more compliant with your needs to get the kids back safely. It will also foster the trust between school and parent as the number one concern of all parents is the safety of their kids.