Top 5 Reasons to Digitize Your
Emergency Operations Plan

Virtually every state in the US has mandated the creation of K−12 school district emergency operations plans (EOPs). Accordingly, most school districts across the country have devoted significant time and resources in recent years to creating and revising their EOPs. These plans specify what steps are to be taken in the event of a wide array of emergency scenarios, from fires to natural disasters to lockdowns to active shooter incidents. District personnel are trained in the details of these EOPs, right down to building- and classroom-specific protocols and procedures. Many districts spend funds to print and distribute EOP copies, procedural lists, and building maps, and assemble them in emergency “go kits,” along with other key materials including the person’s issued laptop/tablet; clipboards; student rosters; confidential special needs, medical needs, and dietary requirements lists; whistles; first aid kits, etc.

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But room assignments change, districts add or remodel school buildings, and EOPs evolve as better information, better procedures, and more effective response protocols come online. Every time one of these changes occurs, details of the affected EOP must change, necessitating reprinting, redistributing, and collecting old, outdated versions of the EOP to prevent confusion. For this reason, as well as those discussed below, school emergency experts strongly recommend digitizing school district and building EOPs. Here are the top 5 reasons to digitize your EOP:
5) Easily update and distribute key documents
By converting your key EOP documents into PDFs, key district personnel and building administrators can easily update them as new changes and mandates require. PDFs can be distributed by email with instructions to print and replace existing, outdated versions with new copies. Individual personnel can then update the contents of their own “go kits.”
4) Reduce or eliminate the need for paperwork in “go kits”
Districts choosing NOT to rely on printed EOP documents in “go kits” can provide PDFs to be viewed electronically on individual laptops or tablets. This will substantially reduce the amount of physical paper records included in the “go kit” and help to minimize the possibility of lost, destroyed, or disordered EOP documentation at the individual personnel level. In an actual emergency, such disorder can prove critical.
3) Make documents readily available
To extend the previous point, digitized versions of crucial EOP documentation residing on a person’s laptop or tablet can be called up immediately for viewing. There would be no need to fumble with or sort through multiple printed documents to consults the desired protocol.
2) Ensure document security
Because EOP documents delineate specific emergency protocols and response steps, school districts have a clear concern about such information falling into the wrong hands. A potential perpetrator planning a school intrusion (or worse) might find such information extremely valuable for avoiding or working around physical and procedural obstacles purposely put in place for school safety. The distribution and access of digitized EOP documents can be strictly controlled, ensuring that EOP information only gets distributed to district and school personnel with a legitimate need to know. Additionally, emergency documents often contain confidential student data that cannot by law be revealed to unauthorized persons. Digitizing such documents can help to prevent such inappropriate or inadvertent access.
1) Synergize EOP documents with emergency management systems
Perhaps the best reason for a school district to digitize its EOP documents is to upload them into a comprehensive K−12 emergency management system for timely, instant, secure access by all authorized users—including first responders. The most cutting edge of such emergency systems, such as the Raptor® Emergency Management system, enable digitized EOPs, building maps, and other critical emergency documents to be uploaded directly into the system. The documents can be easily revised, and they are securely stored in the system’s cloud environment, rather than in a user’s device memory, for instantaneous download to the authorized user’s connected mobile device. The documents are therefore easily accessible, fully portable, and guaranteed to be up to date so long as the uploaded files are kept current. No need to purchase an additional EOP digitization, storage, or retrieval app; no need for easily lost, damaged, or destroyed printed copies; no risk of key EOP and related confidential files ending up with unauthorized persons. The people who need access to EOP documents will have that access instantaneously in the moment of greatest need—at the onset of an actual emergency—or any time such documents require consultation. Digitizing your EOP documents for access, accuracy, and security is rapidly becoming a best school safety practice.

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