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

thinking proactively.”


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.



Mary Ann Kampfe, RFHRHS Public Relations

mkampfe@rumsonfairhaven.org or 908-347-8885

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