A crime has lessons learned for others, regardless of where it occurred. Such was the case with the recent Saugus High School murders in Santa Clarita, CA.
A process consistent with school mass casualty events is reunification. When all unharmed students have been evacuated from the crime scene, they are taken somewhere for reuniting with family. An area church is often that somewhere.
A good reunification process follows proven methods. Ideally, unharmed children are listed and placed in a secure area of the reunification facility. As parents rush in to get their child, they are instantly taken to them. If their children are on the safe list, they are taken to their child, retrieve their child(ren) and leave.
If their child is not on the safe list, they are taken another route, then told of the situation privately, by experienced professionals; not in front of other anxious parents. Other anxious parents simply think children are in different parts of the building as they see their neighbors and friends going different directions. Parents of the missing are cared for in an intentional way.
A building works best for a reunification center. For Saugus High School, the reunification process was in a park. That could not have been an ideal environment.
Reunification is a lot of quickly spinning realities to consider. It’s better if you’ve trained and drilled on it as many school districts have.
Think About it…
There aren’t many expeditions that mobilize as fast as parents hearing their school has been attacked. In today’s world of cell phones, they will know as soon as, if not before law-enforcement. Administrators must act fast to be ready to meet them with a plan.
Churches are often assigned as a reunification location for school tragedies. Very few churches are ready for such a process. Are you?
I Love You Guys Foundation offers SRM (Standard Reunification Method) resources. It is a great place to learn. Go to http://www.iloveuguys.org/srm.html
Study and drill it. Even then, it won’t go down like the book. For example, the attack may happen as parents are there already to pick up their children at normal times.
Be ready for your neighbor’s incident. Be an instant sanctuary on what may be the hardest day of their life. Read about the Saugus High School incident as if your church had been nearby.