Thursday, April 23, 2009

Public Safety Agencies and School Emergency Communications Connected under NIMS

Reprinted from Preparedness Today February 2009

"NIMS Implementation Activities for Schools and Higher Education Institutions’ presents a set of key school and campus emergency management activities that will enhance the relationship between schools and campuses, their respective local governments, and their community partners as they communicate, collaborate, and coordinate on these NIMS activities." - US Dept. of Education Announcement – NIMS Implementation Activities For Schools and Higher Education Institutions

In central Connecticut, steps are being taken to establish comprehensive communications interoperability between schools and local public safety response assets. The Rocky Hill, CT. Police Department, Cromwell, CT. Police and Fire Departments, and Berlin High School and Berlin, CT. Police Department have deployed Mutualink’s communication resource sharing platform, enabling seamless, real-time interoperable communications among all of the network participants. This effort is a major step towards an emergency preparedness and response communications capability that meets the collaborative “all disciplines, all hazards” approach established under the National Response Framework (NRF), and enabling a National Incident Management System (NIMS) compliant environment with an institutionalized and operational understanding of the Incident Command System (ICS).

Schools of all levels are encouraged to be ready to handle emergencies, and the US Department of Education (ED) has issued important guidance to assist educators and administrators in implementing NIMS compliant preparedness and response programs. As part of its effort, ED has established the Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) Technical Assistance Center. The REMS resource center can guide schools in emergency preparedness activities and also assist them with funding applications under the ED Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) and Emergency Management for Higher Education (EMHE) Discretionary Grant Program.

In addition to the programmatic drive to achieve a higher state of preparedness and response readiness, the practical imperative interoperable communications between public safety agencies and schools as a pragmatic step to improved safety has been further magnified over the past decade by a series of high-profile tragic events such as the ones that occurred at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech University. In the aftermath of the Virginia Tech tragedy, the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators (IACLEA) published an analysis and blueprint for safer campuses. In this report, the IACLEA reaffirmed the importance of interoperable communications for effective critical incident response.

In preparation for the operational deployment and use of Mutualink between the schools and police and fire departments, personnel at Berlin High School and Berlin Police Department have worked with Mutualink on completing FEMA Incident Command System, ICS-100 certification. In January, all participants will begin taking part in routine check-in exercises. We invite your jurisdiction to take the next step in making community-wide emergency preparedness and response a reality.

Below, we have compiled a guide of key Emergency Management and Response resources for schools and higher education institutions.

NIMS & Emergency Management Related Resources for Schools:

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