As of November 1, 2010, every school in New Jersey is required to hold at least one fire drill and one school security drill within the school hours, including any summer months during which the school is open for instructional programs. As per Chapter 4 of the New Jersey Fire Code; 408.3.1 the first emergency evacuation drills of each school year shall be conducted within 10 days of the beginning of classes and as of September 2011, schools are required to conduct a school security drill within the first 15 days of the beginning of the school year. Schools are required to hold a minimum of two of each of the following security drills annually: Active shooter; Evacuation (non-fire); Bomb threat; and Lockdown.
We are seeing an increase of drills being conducted by school and police officials throughout the country that may start out with good intentions but wind up having serious and unfortunate consequences. There have been some reports of active shooter drills as referenced in the attached article in which the drill included using personnel to literally act out a real active shooter situation even to the extent of brandishing real weapons and sometimes shooting blanks that sound the same as an actual weapon being discharged.
While it is important that school administrators continue to be proactive and creative in the development of drills that allow their students and staff to practice their response to unusual circumstances, they need to be cognizant that some of these drills might, without advance warning to all staff involved, create a true crisis. Common sense and due caution should be exercised prior to conducting a drill that could be misconstrued on its face value as a real hazardous or dangerous incident unfolding in real time. Although the purpose of emergency drills are to be better prepared and to practice for a real emergency, we cannot predict the real human response to an actual incident or one that is perceived as real which in some cases, could be chaotic and dangerous.