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Readiness and Emergency Management in Schools (REMS) Grant

The United States Department of Education annually funds the Readiness and Emergency Management in Schools (REMS) Grant to provide schools with opportunities to enhance their level of emergency preparedness. Local school’s emergency preparedness plans are often times minimally effective because they do not address the true needs, or they are not taught to the faculty, staff, students, parents and community, or they have not been practiced and validated. Additionally, long standing school plans may not be in compliance with federal guidelines and will have to be adjusted accordingly. Emergency response entities are many times not included in the planning processes, and are therefore ignorant of school policies during an emergency.

One of the requirements of the application process is signature approval from at least two of five entities included in emergency response: fire, EMS, law enforcement, city government, and public works. This collaboration is mutually beneficial because it allows the school and community response organizations an opportunity to achieve common goals by sharing responsibility, authority, and accountability for achieving the results. An attempt to have fire, police, local government, school and public works officials to come together at the same time and agree on a plan of action is difficult, at best – and the REMS Grant requires just that. Not only is their input and approval required to complete the grant application, they are also needed so the process will work efficiently and effectively.

Each of the entities involved have a unique aspect to bring to the grant application, and none of them could successfully complete the requirements alone. Delegating one teacher to fulfill the requirements would be a practice in futility unless that person had specific response experience. In the same thought, a member of the fire department would be as unsuccessful without specific knowledge of the operation of the school. If these entities come together and simply vote on decisions, the only person with true insight may be outvoted by many who do not. Therefore, collaborative leadership, or the seeking on consensus, is the best method to use for these groups to effectively work together to improve the preparedness of the school.
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