May 6, 2016 — On Tuesday, May 2nd, New York City Emergency Management held a workshop for private school administrators focusing on the development or enhancement of Emergency Operations Plans for schools. An Emergency Operations Plan is a document describing what a school will do to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies. Tuesday’s workshop at the David N. Dinkins Municipal Building featured presentations by the U.S. Department of Education’s Readiness and Emergency Management for Schools (REMS) program, the New York State Police’s Safe Schools NY program, NYPD Shield, and the FDNY. About 70 school administrators attended the workshop representing 55 independent schools in and around the New York City area.
"Here in New York we have different emergencies that can happen all over the place. You have to create a program – not just create it but put it in writing – you have to review it, and you have to constantly work on it," said Yitzchok Milworm, Director of the Pathway Study Center in Brooklyn. "Safety is not something to be taken lightly anymore – when you have a plan in place it’s a lot easier than trying to fish for a plan."
"We are there to protect the children as administrators and we have to prepare for any circumstances be it weather, active shooter, biological or chemical attack, we need to be aware of the problems out there and what we can do to protect the community as a whole," said Terrence Kennedy, Director of Facilities at Lycee Francais school in Manhattan. "The way in which we should be putting our plans in place, as presented here by NYC Emergency Management, is very structured and all-encompassing on different scenarios. I think that’s very important."
The first half of the workshop was led by the REMS team, who gave examples of different types of emergencies and responses including lockdowns, evacuations, natural gas exposures, fires, and blizzards. Participants were guided through exercises to determine how each school would react to unique emergencies and how to best create a basic Emergency Operations Plan. According to REMS, the five mission goals for a successful plan are:
Additionally, the NYS Police, NYPD, and FDNY gave presentations on their respective emergency planning programs for schools and offered resources to help better prepare the schools and their communities.
"Speaking as a parent, our children are the most precious things on earth and knowing that we are sending them to a school where they are going to be not only educated but protected and kept safe is so critical and so important," said Anita Sher, Assistant Commissioner of Training at NYC Emergency Management,. "What we wanted to do here today is give the schools the tools to do that."
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