You know that safety drills must be practiced on a regular basis. But, do you really know why? Practicing drills conditions us to behave in a specific way even when our physiology and cognitive capacity are compromised.
Why we must practice drills
In an emergency situation, the stress we experience causes several things to happen to us physiologically. Our fine motor skills deteriorate, followed by our complex motor skills and cognitive processing ability. We begin to perceive things more narrowly and lose some of our problem-solving skills. Finally, at a heart rate of 220 bpm, irrational behavior begins to occur. This is why we sometimes hear about people doing something that we cannot understand, or even imagine, during an emergency.
It is critical to think through ahead of time how we will respond in a variety of situations. A good place to start is by walking through a variety of emergencies during tabletop exercises with key staff and emergency responders. From there, you can move to implementation of full-school drills. The type of drills should be rotated and include fire, chemical spill, evacuation, reverse evacuation, lockdown and any other type of drill pertinent to your specific location (flood, tornado, etc.).
The more you practice, the calmer and less fearful everyone will be. We can’t always control what happens, but we can control how we respond. Practicing drills exactly as we want to behave in a true emergency is the best preparation of all.
If you need assistance planning and enforcing your drill schedule, simply contact me here.