Most campus personnel responsible for emergency response are aware of the legal guidelines presented in the Clery Act, which requires institutions to provide timely warnings of crimes that represent a threat to the safety of students or employees.
In addition to these requirements, campus safety staffs must be able to identify a crisis and execute strategies in compliance with state and federal statutes.
To meet this burden, you have to invest in careful planning, flexible systems and continuous testing to ensure all of your communication methods are optimized for emergency effectiveness. Campuses must be prepared to leverage a wide set of technologies to get the word out as fast as possible, in the most effective manner and across as many channels as possible.
Defining a crisis
The Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) does not define what constitutes a “significant emergency” or “dangerous situation”, so campuses need to define their emergencies long before one occurs.
A series of scenarios should be explored and prepared for, with detailed instructions for each. Consider every possible emergency on an organizational, local, state, national and global level: severe weather, fire, violence, hazmat, terrorism threat, etc.
Knowing how to define a crisis and then immediately trigger a reliable action plan is crucial because the health and safety of your audience depends on the speed and accuracy of your response. A thorough crisis communications plan can play a significant role by transforming the unexpected into the anticipated, and clarifying how to respond.
Building a plan
Your plan should outline what you need to communicate, how, when and to whom. Here are eight basic steps to get you started:
1. Start at the top: Get your plan authorized by management and legal in advance and get management to integrate crisis training into orientations, budgets, and to approve time for testing and drills.
See page 2 for details on how digital signage can be a key part of crisis communication…
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