- Mr David Moses Actg. Campus Registrar

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  • 1. CONCURRENT SESSION OVERVIEW MANAGING CRISESMANAGING CRISES1.0 Introduction By way of introduction it may be useful to reflect on a possible definition of acrisis. Jeffery Mitchell has described a crisis as any situation that causes aperson to experience unusually strong emotional reactions which have thepotential to interfere with their ability to function either at the scene or later.Another description of a crisis is an event which causes disruption to anorganization, creates significant danger or risk and which creates a situationwhere staff, student and parents feel unsafe, vulnerable and under stress. Some distinguishing characteristics of a crisis are that they may: Be extremely dangerous or distressing Be sudden and unexpected Be disruptive to ones sense of control of events around them Be disruptive to ones beliefs and assumptions about the world, people and work Challenge the belief that events can be understood Include elements of physical or emotional loss or risk of loss Some examples of crises include Natural disasters e.g. hurricanes, earthquakes, floods, and people-made emergenciesAccidents at the campus or on excursionsSerious illness or death of students, staffThreats, assaults, suicides, violent incidents, kidnappingsViolent event in the community How one responds to a crisis would depend on how prepared one was before thecrisis occurred. Some crises may even be prevented altogether. Recovering froma crisis would certainly depend on how you handled the crisis, how youperformed during the crisis. The link between Prevention, Preparedness,Response and Recovery appears to be a natural one and it may be useful todiscuss the matter of Managing Crises within this context. 1 David Moses, June 2005

2. CONCURRENT SESSION OVERVIEW MANAGING CRISES 2.0 Prevention Prevention relates to the identification of risks that can arise in the community ofthe academy and the development of policies and procedures which cancontribute to reducing the risk of crises occurring and/or minimizing their effects. Risk Management is now regarded as an essential aspect of good managementpractice. Risk management involves the systematic identification of threats toresources and the development of strategies that minimize their adverse effects. An Occupational Health and Safety Policy supported by a Safety Committee isalso now standard to most organizations, including academies, and would detailpolicies and procedures to safeguard against personal injury to members of thatcommunity.3.0 Preparedness Preparedness is the planning and preparation of processes to be undertaken whena crisis occurs. This includes training and development and establishing linkswith relevant agencies and personnel. Most organizations would have a DisasterPreparedness Plan geared toward minimizing the adverse effects of a disaster. Pre-crisis planning can: Pre-empt or interrupt the development of a crisis Make a life-saving difference in an emergency Prepare staff strategically and psychologically for a crisis Minimize interruption to the learning environment Reduce risk of adverse publicity Minimize risk of reduced productivity, absenteeism, damaged communityreputation Pre-crisis planning will: Undertake risk assessment Identify relevant services and establish liaison Develop a management plan and negotiate endorsement throughout thecommunity of the academy Identify secure areas, mobile phone policy, siren policy, etc. Identify protocols to avoid escalating the risk Identify communication strategy during emergency and with staff,students families support services2 David Moses, June 2005 3. CONCURRENT SESSION OVERVIEW MANAGING CRISESA Pre-crisis Plan will include: The formation of a crisis response team Identification of the range of emergencies covered in the plan Assessment of risks and hazards (potential and actual) Procedures to secure the safety of individuals and groups Procedures for evacuation Site maps, floor plans, identification of alternative assembly points Rehearsal of emergency practices Communication strategy: information to students, staff, families Identification of the recovery processes, including the review plan 4.0 Response Response is the action undertaken to address the operational and psychologicalneeds of the site community to stabilize the situation. It is the set of activities thatare carried out immediately an emergency occurs and lasts until the risk topersonal safety and /or property has been removed. While the communityEmergency Services normally has the legal responsibility for coordinating andcontrolling the response of most types of emergencies the organization willnormally maintain an ongoing responsibility for the safety and well being ofstudents and staff for the duration of the emergency.At the onset of a crisis the physical safety and psychological protection of thecommunity are the immediate priorities. One should: Take steps to end the danger and limit further physical and /orpsychological injury. Follow site management plan on invacuation, evacuation, callingemergency services, screening areas off from view etc. Try to keep calm, issue clear instructions, and send for backup. Ensure that the principal or some other senior person will provide theleadership for the response and recovery It is always helpful to take a few moments to stop and think Appearing calm will help to give a sense of control Scan the site procedures to remind yourself what needs to be done Send for a member of the administration team Convene the crisis management team 3 David Moses, June 2005 4. CONCURRENT SESSION OVERVIEW MANAGING CRISESAs you assess the situation Ensure that the situation is stabilized Collect information from reliable sources and ensure that you are kept upto date Meet with crisis management team. Have crisis management plan in hand What support and emergency personnel are required? Is there a need foradditional teaching support? Who is likely to be effected and how What needs to be communicated, to whom and by whom How will the situation be monitored What tasks need to be undertaken and by whom Possible personnel / agencies to consult include The police, Emergency Services Medical services Campus Principal Legal services Media Liaison Guidance Officer, Personnel Counsellor, Social workerOperational issues would involve Setting up a command centre or space, and communication strategy Allocating roles and responsibilities according to the crisis managementplan Identifying particular tasks e.g. visiting family, attending to deceasedpersons locker, etc. Identifying the process for parent and support personnel to visit the site Determining front office support to deal with extra calls Identifying gathering areas, parent meeting space, student/staff recovery asrequired Identifying the recording process to assist in keeping track ofpersonnel/student needs, subsequent interventions, decisions made andaction taken Timetable adjustment Relocation of work areas e.g. in the case of fire damage Considering how student/staff can be linked with significant others to re-establish a sense of personal control4 David Moses, June 2005 5. CONCURRENT SESSION OVERVIEW MANAGING CRISESAt the end of the day one should ensure that The academy community members have information on the event and siteresponse plan People have support contacts and/or helpful information on managingstress and emotional reactions The Emergency Management team has regrouped and debriefed the day,and modify the ongoing plan The recording process has been reviewed Since individuals react differently to a crisis thought should be given to thepsychological well being of those involved in a crisis Consider the emotional well being of the community. Consider (withappropriate support from social worker, guidance officer, or personnelcounsellor) the nature of the event, the potential impact and how toprovide information and a supportive environment Ensure that information about personnel counsellor is routinely availablesince it is not possible to identify who will need additional support at thetime or subsequently. Consider modifying each days programme; consider relief staff andsupportive gestures (group events like morning tea). Staff may not wantto be perceived as not coping and may force themselves to work. To assistrecovery it may be more helpful in the long term to have temporaryflexible working arrangements. Provide, wherever possible, an environment where staff and students cansafely express their thoughts and feelings. Recovery rooms may benecessary. Ensure the monitoring of individuals/groups. ASI (Applied Strategies International), in an article published on the Internet hasgiven some useful Crisis Handling Principles which I thought I should sharewith you, viz. Deal with all your audiences Remain flexible with regard to the unexpected Be conservative about reassurances Demonstrate concern Self praise is not as effective as external party endorsement Good news and bad news all have the same half life Tell the truth The press is after newsworthy events, do not create the news Building a defence by discrediting others has negative consequences The most underestimated audience is the silent majority5 David Moses, June 2005 6. CONCURRENT SESSION OVERVIEW MANAGING CRISES Explanations of meeting mandatory requirements is not evidence of goodmanagement A single right answer does not exist5.0 Recovery The monitoring of recovery processes facilitates the return to routine.Recovery includes the review of policy and procedures. Recovery management is most effective when there is recognition of thecomplex, dynamic and sometimes protracted nature of recovery processesand the changing needs of affected individual and groups within thecommunity. Leaders need to consider their own well being, and seeksupport and debriefing, as appropriate. The effectiveness of the recovery environment depends on:Factual information provided about the event and its effect The nature of reactions and availability of support The extent to which the site provides a supportive environment Whether the significance of the event is confirmed by others The extent to which specialist intervention and support is available Recovery would address restoring the academys community to a regularroutine and this will be facilitated byMaintaining regular updated information to all staff. Staff will bebetter equipped to handle students if they are well informed andhave opportunities to raise concerns and questions Some flexibility may be required as some staff and students maybe unable to return to full/normal duties/routines. Monitor thosesituations Assist staff to create a safe, ordered environment as this will helpto reassure students Maintain a supportive environment. Perception of supportivestructures has the potential to act as a safety net and as anexpression of concern for the well being of the community. In the unfortunate event that death had resulted from the crisis there wouldbe the need to address the matter of the funeral. Leadership will need toconsider staff attendance at the funeral. Student attendance is usually afamily decision. 6 David Moses, June 2005 7. CONCURRENT SESSION OVERVIEW MANAGING CRISES Rituals, ceremonies or memorials can be appropriate ways to honour the event/life of a person and are usually significant in comforting those distressed. The worksite may choose to have a memorial service, a plaque, the dedication of a book, trophy etc. or a contribution to the sites grounds/garden.Finally there is the issue of promoting organisational learning. One should consider the need for an operational debrief. This needs to be done as part of the learning process and not to apportion blame. A range of issues may surface as a result of the crisis. These issues may relate to the needTo revise the Disaster Preparedness Plan To revise the curriculum to develop student understanding of griefand loss, developing resiliency, optimism and emotionalintelligence Strengthening partnerships with families, departmental supportservices of agencies Staff professional development e.g. proactive responses tomanaging stress6.0 ConclusionCoping with a crisis need not be a hopeless battle. If we employ risk management techniques we may be able to identify some types of risk and put measures in place to minimise their negative effects. A range of possibilities exists for the managing of crises if we approach this responsibility from the perspective of Prevention, Preparedness, Response and Recovery. AcknowledgementMuch of the material for this paper was taken from Internet published documentation by ASI (Applied Strategies International) on Managing Crises7 David Moses, June 2005

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