The Site Emergency Plan

The Site Emergency Plan is a publication of each school site, customized to the requirements of that site: in other words, the response guide for that particular site.  As such, each of these documents is an integral portion of emergency preparedness and response at the site.   This information is invaluable to PAUSD for planning and response coordination purposes.

See here for a description of the mandated process by which these documents are written and maintained.

The PAUSD Emergency Preparedness Plan contains a complete specification for site emergency plans as well as recommended forms and charts.  Each site is to prepare a document in conformance with this specification. Consult this document for complete and current details. 

Here is a summary of key Site Emergency Plan components:

Site Emergency Plan Component Brief Description
Incident Commander’s Role

The Incident Commander, ordinarily the site principal or designee, has the ultimate responsibility for all local decisions in a disaster situation.  The Incident Commander must be available to all emergency teams, the emergency radio equipment, police and fire personnel, parents and the news media.  Ordinarily, the Incident Commander is the site principal.

Organization during a Declared Emergency

Sites are organized around an Incident Commander and a Command Center. The Command Center will begin to operate immediately after a disaster.  Per ICS guidelines, the Command Center shall be located in a secure area generally away from student assembly areas.  The Incident Commander or designee will be here most of the time.  This is where the record keeping, communication, and major decision-making will take place. 

Principal’s Checklist

The Principal’s Checklist for each site shall be submitted to the District Safety Committee Chair and to the PTA Unit each year.

This is a checklist to help Principals organize and meet the site requirements mandated by the Palo Alto Unified School District Emergency Preparedness Plan.

Communications to Parents Each site shall maintain on file letters and announcements appropriate to obtaining required information from parents and communicating with parents during emergency events.
Site Hazard Survey

Annual survey to locate safety hazards on school grounds outside of classrooms. Includes evaluation of interior and exterior portions of buildings as well as school grounds. Focused on non-structural hazards caused by the furnishings and non-structural elements of a building. 

Classroom Hazard Survey

Each teacher shall assess his/her area for hazards and fill out a Classroom Hazard Survey The Principal shall subsequently submit Maintenance requisitions to the District School Safety Planning Committee Chair to have the work completed. The survey includes evaluation of interior and exterior portions of buildings as well as school grounds.  The survey is focused on non-structural hazards caused by the furnishings and non-structural elements of a building.

School Emergency Recall Contact Lists and Procedures

When emergencies occur outside of school hours, District employees could be impressed into service by City or County emergency authorities.  Sites shall be prepared to recall site personnel as directed.

Site Map This map shall include established evacuation routes, safe assembly areas, primary and alternate locations for Incident Command Center,  response activities areas, search routes; location of emergency supplies, utilities shutoffs, stored hazardous materials, and other areas of special risk.
Rosters and Charts All Team assignments and procedures shall be summarized in chart form, suitable for distribution and posting, e.g. with stored emergency supplies

Response activities are carried out by pre-assigned teams:

Team Brief Description
Command Center Includes the Site Incident Commander (normally, the site principal), the Office Staff, the Nurse/Health Technician (if available), and the Food Services Staff, as applicable
First Aid Composed of teachers. Provide emergency and long-term First Aid.  First duty is to set up the First Aid Station near the Command Center (away from possible hazards) and to manage and utilize First Aid supplies.
Search and Rescue

Multiple teams composed of teachers in pairs.   Teams search the campus (buildings and grounds) in a predetermined pattern shortly after the emergency has occurred and when it is safe to do so.  These Teams locate injured or trapped students or staff and assess the safety of structures.

Utilities and Hazards

Multiple teams composed of teachers. Utilities and Hazard Teams check utilities and identify hazards. The team shall do whatever is necessary to minimize further danger and report findings to the Command Center.

Traffic and Security Multiple teams composed of teachers. In charge of securing perimeters, directing parents to release areas (primary and middle schools), maintaining access for emergency vehicles.
Student Release Composed of teachers.  Parents or designates arriving at the site to pick up children will interface solely with student release.  It is the responsibility of this team to make sure that students are released only to pre-authorized persons and that records of each release are kept.
Sanitation Composed of teachers. Evaluate the condition of existing sanitary facilities and provide additional sanitary facilities for students and staff if necessary.
Food and Water Composed of teachers.  Accounts for and distributes food and water to staff and students during an emergency.
Shelter Composed of teachers.  Provides overhead shelters for other teams and students as required.
Student Helpers/Messengers

Composed of pre-selected older students. If on-site communications cannot be accommodated by adult personnel, students may be utilized to assist.

At the discretion of each Incident Commander, student helpers may be utilized as runners and assistants, as long as such activity does not endanger them in any way.  Student helpers may only carry messages on the site, and may not leave that site except through regular release procedures.

“Site Team Staffing During a Declared Emergency” PAUSD emergency response is a modification of the standardized Incident Command System (ICS) procedure used by virtually all responders in California.The key modification is that staff and teachers are pre-assigned to and trained for particular teams/functions, as listed in the table above.


What is the role of parents in Site Emergency Plans?

The PAUSD specification for the Plans currently mentions no role for parents except with respect to being processed, on arrival, to pick up children. The specification implies that parents are otherwise to be kept off campus.  

What is the role of the surrounding communities in Site Emergency Plans?

The PAUSD specification for the Plans currently mentions no role for members of the surrounding community. The specification implies that community members are to be kept off campus.  

How are Site Emergency Plans coordinated with city and regional professional responders?

There is no means of coordination between the sites and the professionals who may respond there.

How are Site Emergency Plans evaluated?

Currently, sites are requested to submit their completed and approved plan to the District.  There is no mechanism,  nor are there personnel assigned, to evaluate them.

How are Site Emergency Plans drilled/practiced?

The District schedules several emergency drills per year, per school level, as mandated.  No audit or evaluation of school site response adequacy is performed.

What site evacuation plans are in place?

Incident Commanders have been instructed to lead children away from approaching hazards.  District buses may be available.

Have bus evacuations been practiced?

Not as far as is known.


School Safety