With crime on the top of everyone’s minds, especially as we listen to the daily or nightly news, it can put our minds at ease that there are professionals in the field who are committed to helping school children and teachers, their families, houses of worship, and community members to plan, be prepared, and safe.
Mike Johnson, the co-founder and CEO of Clearpath EPM, does not want thinking about our daily safety to be scary. Instead of operating from a place of fear, he wants us to approach this from a place of power.
“It is important to understand that a system can be built for any place because it starts with situational awareness, such as entering a building and observing where the exits are. It is about responding as opposed to reacting,” Johnson explains.
“You do not want to be sitting frozen in an outdoor café with bullets flying,” he says. “If something happens know where you are going and what you are going to do. You won’t be a victim because you will have a plan already in place.”
So, as we live our daily lives, going to school, work, church, and moving around our neighborhoods, how afraid should we be?
According to Johnson people become fearful of the unknown and don’t know how to respond. “This is about being aware and having a plan – regardless of where you are and who you are with. So, understand your vulnerabilities and have a plan.”
He adds that this is not about being paranoid and looking over your shoulder every second of every day. “It is about situational awareness. It’s about hearing and listening. Your mind and your gut are going to tell you something is not right.”
This means keeping your belongings closer to your body so they cannot be easily snatched away. Don’t leave your phone on the car’s front seat; keep it in your pocket.
“So, it’s about understanding the threats and hazards, regardless of your location, whether it’s your neighborhood or my recent trips to Bogota and Guatemala. Understand your vulnerabilities and lower your risk by having a plan,” Johnson explains.
“For a school, we will make 50-60 recommendations to lower their risk and many of them are based on common sense. Every adult on campus should be wearing an ID card so every adult is identified. Open school campuses are good in theory, but it means a lot of students are moving around the area.”
He said that his Prepare My School online course is for U.S., and international schools, and it involves adult education with videos that participants can do at their own pace. Clearpath EPM also works with schools and other venues to design a tailored plan involving extensive assessment and training.
With schools around the world and in the U.S. using Clearpath EPM’s expert training, preparedness, and planning methods, each intuition involved is seeing tremendous impact.
“We brought Clearpath’s consultant to our school on a four-day inspection audit – covering all areas of security, safety, health, and crisis preparedness,” explains Kerry Nockolds, Risk Management Office and Director of Admissions and Marketing for the Taipei European School.
“The experience of having a specialist with a deep understanding of the needs and challenges facing an international school in these fundamental areas of child safety was far beyond [our] expectations,” Nockolds added, “and as such, the school felt that a longer-term working relationship with Clearpath via virtual consulting services and using its Totality program was essential to really developing the protocols for effective risk management and crisis preparedness.”
Johnson knows the importance of working with first responders – including police and fire – to help mitigate a volatile situation, but as much as “they are like superheroes, the one power they don’t have is the ability to fly,” he said.
“They physically have to drive to a site and this can take 30 minutes when it comes to a sheriff in a rural area, and some 12 minutes to get to a school during an active shooting. So, our work is about protecting your people and keeping them safe until the first responders get to the scene.”
Johnson and his team are well aware that emergency planning and preparedness are very specific to each location. “But overall, if you see something out of sorts, always say something. Use our model to your home, business, small or large school district, house of worship, etc.
“We are here to create the terminology of what language to use,” he says, “and give each school, business, or site the tools and toolbox to address the uniqueness of each site.”