On June 18, 2013 the Obama Administration released the Guide for Developing High-Quality School Emergency Operations Plans, the Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Institutions of Higher Education and the Guide for Developing High-Quality Emergency Operations Plans for Houses of Worship.   These guides are the culmination of years of emergency planning work by the Federal government, and the first joint product of ED, DHS, DOJ and HHS on this critical topic.
The planning process outlined in the guides will help schools, IHEs and houses of worship align their emergency planning practices with those at the national, state, and local levels.
The new guides translate the planning guidance from these recent developments to the school, IHE and houses of worship contexts, ensuring that they benefit from these advancements, and introduce schools, IHEs and houses of worship to a new approach to planning that includes walking through different emergency scenarios to create a course of action for each objective the team is trying to accomplish, whether it be providing fire prevention training to all students and staff that work with combustible materials or evacuating everyone in the building.
It’s not often that we see marketing statements included in the title of emergency management documents.
I like that the planning team was comprised of a diverse collection of agencies such as the U.S. I am absolutely thrilled about how the planning team chose to explain lockdown–not as an unreasonable, illogical panacea to all active shooter incidents (which goes against DHS guidance for active shooter response).


Overall these are very strong planning guides and constitute a huge leap in emergency preparedness planning for vulnerable sites like schools and places of worship. The guides incorporate lessons learned from the recent shootings in Newtown and Oak Creek as well as the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma, can be customized to each type of community, and may be used to create new emergency plans as well as to revise and update existing plans. National preparedness efforts, including emergency planning, are now informed by Presidential Policy Directive (PPD) 8, signed by the President in March 2011, which describes the nation’s approach to preparedness.
Schools need to be in the mindset of planning and coordinating prevention and protection measures (especially using the core capabilities and PPD framework). This directive represents an evolution in our collective understanding of national preparedness, based on the lessons learned from terrorism, hurricanes, school incidents, and other emergencies.
Clearly, the team that created these guides saw all the pure crap that is considered sound planning on the internet and decided they needed a bold assertion in the title.


Often in emergency preparedness in the academic environment, there’s a sense of diffusion due to the large number of people, departments, vendors, and services involved in emergency management. In my humble opinion, the THIRA probably could have been slightly modified (perhaps THIRA-ED…even rhymes with higher-ed!) to offer academia and emergency management offices a standardized assessment methodology.
Department of Justicem, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Federal Emergency Management Agency.



Disaster preparedness and management
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