School TragediesA Perspective on Lessons Learned Rick J. Kaufman, APR Crisis Response Team Leader Columbine High School Tragedy
A Perspective on Lessons Learned • A Visual RemembranceA Time to Remember, A Time to Hope • Dispelling the Columbine MythsThe Truth Behind What Happened • What Did We Learn?
A Perspective on Lessons Learned • A Leadership TestResponse defines the organization; be credible • A Communication TestFoundation for planning, response & recovery • A Professional TestEmerging as a leader & key adviser
A Perspective on Lessons Learned In preparation… • If you start off behind, you will stay behind • Being proactive only keeps you even • Identify chain of command for decision-making, what to do if it breaks down • Site, district plans must have contingencies • Crisis plans must be specific, automatic, tested
A Perspective on Lessons Learned In preparation… • Establish inter-agency protocols in advance • Provide parents/students advance notice of crisis plan, their role in the process • Know who to call; trust in the folks who have the expertise in dealing with crisis
A Perspective on Lessons Learned During the crisis… • Mobilize response team to shield the site, students & staff from outside forces • Make call for assistance before it’s too late • Understand it’s not “business as usual” • Act in short-term, think in long-term • You need soldiers, generals on front lines • Know key messages and stick to them!
A Perspective on Lessons Learned During the crisis… • Don’t let media dominate your time, attention • Stay focused on target audiences • Internal communication is more important • View crisis from “outside in” to gauge public • Anticipate external political, personal agendas • Prepare for ripple effect and copycats
A Perspective on Lessons Learned During the crisis… • Maintain active rumor control • Balance privacy rights of individuals (FERPA) with public’s right to know • Understand law enforcement have other standards for releasing information that may be protected by FERPA, organizational policies • Be firm on media access to facilities, people; no favorites
A Perspective on Lessons Learned In the aftermath… • Crisis has long-term life • Remember healing processes and triggering events • Brace for blame • Continuously update crisis plan; learn from other situations • Train new staff immediately • Retrain all staff annually; don’t forget students
A Perspective on Lessons Learned In the aftermath… • Crisis not only creates character, but reveals it • Seek opportunities to return to normal • Seek closure and commemorate • Take care of yourself and your team • Bring in reinforcements