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    MCSS Promotes the Use of Standard Response Protocols from the “i love u guys” Foundation

    Emergency planning using an “all hazards approach” means that individuals are prepared to respond to any situation during a school day: weather events, accidents, intruders, fires, and other threats to personal safety. Quickly and clearly directing all students and staff to take immediate, specific actions to prevent harm is critical to emergency preparedness. Using a single word and accompanying phrase allows for this. Historically, schools developed codes, terms, and phrases that, while well-intentioned, have sometimes led to confusion. Confusion means delaying the actions taken while individuals seek clarity on what they should do.

    MCSS supports using a common lexicon of terms across all Maryland jurisdictions and stakeholder groups to communicate clearly during an emergency. Communications through social media broaden the audience beyond local boundaries. Standard terms allow emergency responders, parents, students, school personnel, local media, and other Maryland citizens to understand what is occurring and respond accordingly. 

    The “i love u guys” standard response protocols are data-driven, researched, and based on relevant experiences. The five standard response protocols have gone through several revisions through the years based on their use in school settings and analysis by experts in school safety. All products and resources are free. 

    An emergency preparedness plan should include designated time to provide direct instruction to staff, students, and parents about each SRP. Tabletop exercises following direct instruction provide the means by which to discuss the application of what was taught and generalize it to a unique set of circumstances. Drills test what has been learned and should inform the next steps for improvement. Teach, exercise, drill, improve should be a familiar cycle in schools.

    Identifying the appropriate protocol given a set of circumstances requires school officials to deeply understand each protocol and spend time discussing various types of emergencies through tabletop exercises. School officials should be mindful that an emergency evolves, and so should the protocol. Often, a single emergency event will require two or more protocols. This NEW tabletop exercise 37 is interactive and an excellent example of how multiple protocols are called for as the circumstances evolve.