Are You Prepared For The Perfect Storm?

Posted by on March 16, 2010

A “perfect storm” is an expression that, “…describes an event where a rare combination of circumstances will aggravate a situation drastically,” according to Wikipedia’s definition

Perfect Storms Strike Us Personally

We all have personal “perfect storms” from time to time.  I’ve had a couple in the past few weeks.  Just last week, my office Internet service was unexpectedly down for two days, my workload was backlogged, blog posts were delayed, extended family needs came knocking at the door, a funeral service emotionally drained us, and this all occurred on top of “regular” day-to-day stressors.

The week before, while on business travel, another “perfect storm” hit.  I took a rare evening flight for a four day, four city tour workshop presentation series.  I left for the flight on three hours sleep the night before, ended up having a later-than-ideal dinner, had very timely new material to add to the next morning’s presentation, and ended up falling asleep in my hotel room with the computer running, TV on, and no alarm clock set or wake-up call placed with the front desk.

I woke up the next morning with less than an hour before I had to be at the presentation site, which was off-site from the hotel.  I had to quickly finish adding my work material, put away my computer and items spread all over the place, unpack the day’s clothing and repack everything else, shower and get dressed, check-out of the hotel, and get to the training site about 10 to 15 minutes away.  As I headed out the door, I also realized the clock in my room was 10 minutes behind the actual time. (Fortunately, somehow I was able to make it right on the second of my scheduled arrival, all having driven safely and attentively —and without leaving anything at the hotel.)

These things happen.  And when they happen, they can and do happen at the same time.  It is, as named, “the perfect storm.”

The Perfect Storm and School Safety

We have seen the same thing happen in serious school security breaches and school crisis incidents.  For example, in recent years, an elementary student was hit by a school bus after his bus dropped him off in a location of the school parking not designated for bus traffic.  The driver of the bus which struck the student did not see him, school staff was reportedly not outside at the time of the incident (during morning drop-off), the superintendent was out of the district, etc.

So what is the lesson for school safety?

The “perfect storm” should teach us each person’s role is important to the overall safety and preparedness of a school.  If one person drops the ball, it can create a gap which could increase the intensity, severity, and/or escalation of an incident.  And if two or three people drop the ball in terms of their duties, and do so simultaneously, the results can be devastating. 

So remember not to knowingly let your guard down, let your safety duties go unfulfilled, or assume that your small piece of the puzzle won’t make a difference if you don’t do your part.  Don’t create an opportunity for your actions (and inaction) to end up contributing to the “perfect storm.”

Ken Trump

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