FEMA Emergency Operations Planning
October 8th, 2013
RFH School Administrators and Local First Responders Receive
Training in Emergency Operations Planning from FEMA During
Intensive Four-Day Session
Well before Hurricane Sandy struck the shore area with unprecedented force,
administrators at Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School were determined to take
their emergency preparedness to the highest possible level. They took a major step
towards that goal by recently taking advantage of a golden opportunity provided by the
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
RFH is one of a handful of New Jersey schools to send a team of professionals to
FEMA’s Multi-Hazard Emergency Planning for Schools, an intensive four-day course
held in the National Emergency Training Center in Emmittsville, Maryland. The RFH
Board of Education backed the school’s decision to send six administrators and four first
responders to the session held from April 22-25, one of three held each year.
The FEMA course is dedicated to the successful creation, maintenance, and
deployment of an airtight Emergency Operation Plan (EOP). EOPs are crucial for
keeping students and staff safe in case of an emergency, as well as communicating
effectively to the surrounding community including parents and guardians.
“We knew going in that our EOP was a very good one, but we wanted to take
advantage of this opportunity to work as a team and identify any improvements that
could be made” said Peter Righi, RFH Superintendent.
RFH Administrators attending the training along with Dr. Righi were Principal Tracy
Handerhan, Vice-Principal Chris Lanzalotto, Business Administrator Frank Gripp,
Technology Supervisor Chris Alworth, and Supervisor of Building and Grounds Thomas
Buffa. Rumson Police Chief Scott Paterson and Captain Jeff Nixon were in attendance
along with Fair Haven Police Chief Darryl Breckenridge and Lieutenant Joe McGovern.
“This course allowed us to come together as a group and focus solely on improving
our plan, without the day-to-day interruptions we would have had elsewhere,” said Mr.
Buffa. Rumson Police Chief Paterson agreed, saying, “To see the dedication from top to
bottom and the willingness to work together as a team was inspiring and will be highly
beneficial to the safety of all involved, especially our students.”
While at the session, the RFH team addressed topics such as understanding the
intricacies of incident management, forming the planning team, developing a school
EOP for all types of instances, training for the implementation of the plan, and regularly
updating the plan.
Righi found the “Roundtable” planning discussions to be especially helpful. “During
these brainstorming sessions, we would create all different types of scenarios — such
as an instance where a storm has knocked out power — and quickly come up with
steps that would be taken,” he said. “The Roundtable Discussions were a real lesson in
Mrs. Handerhan found the roundtable discussions to be invaluable as well. “
was also grateful for the opportunity to attend the four-day course. “The FEMA
course required our team to consider many scenarios through different lenses,” she
noted. “The opportunity to work so closely with law enforcement and with FEMA staff
was such a valuable experience, and I feel fortunate to have trained in such a detailed manner.”
According to the FEMA website, upon completion of this course attendees will be
better equipped to handle vital tasks including: describing how the EOP fits into
district, community and personal/family emergency management plans; identifying
and assessing natural, technological, and human-caused hazards likely to impact the
school; knowing each necessary component of an EOP and creating a timetable for
accomplishing all related tasks; understanding and identifying the types of exercises
available to train for the school EOP; and more.
While at the four-day session, the RFH team also enhanced their understanding of the
Incident Command System (ICS). The ICS provides an organizational structure for
incident management and enables a coordinated response among various jurisdictions.
Using the ICS for every incident or practice drill helps users develop the protocols
needed for large-scale events.
Mr. Gripp noted that having the full team present at the session is key to the success of
the EOP plan. “Combining school administration experiences with local law enforcement
experiences allowed us to focus on revisiting our plan its in entirety in order to discover
and correct any gaps within the plan,” he said.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT –
Mary Ann Kampfe, RFHRHS Public Relations
firstname.lastname@example.org or 908-347-8885