This paper covers a subject much different from that usually found in PSP, but one that is quite important. Some may question the value of such a paper in a technical journal. My position (and the editors of PSP) is that we, as professionals, have a duty to provide assistance to the localities where we work and live. This paper shows a method of doing just that.

It has long been recognized that collaborative efforts for fire and hazardous materials response benefits both industry and the community. However, other potentially fruitful areas of cooperation have not been generally recognized or exploited. This paper describes an effort to use a common industry practice, the table top exercise, as a means for improving security procedures in public and private schools.

The process described here was developed to address a need to minimize the potential adverse consequences of violence and terrorism in schools, as was experienced at Columbine High School in Jefferson County, Colorado. A team consisting of local school representatives, police, fire, EMS, and industry were assembled to create and implement “Active Shooter” Table Top Exercises for all city schools in Kingsport, Tennessee. The primary customer for these exercises was the school system but a synergy developed early into the process for these groups to become an interactive team.

This presentation will describe a “how to” approach, which includes the selection of the team, creation of a master scenario, conducting an orientation seminar, adaptation of scenario to each school (elementary, middle, and high), conducting the Table Top Exercise, critique, summary of lessons learned, procedure/policy/practices updates, follow-up training for remaining staff, and auditing protocol.

The three major learning points from this process were the identification of areas and operations where minor and in most cases inexpensive changes would have a significant positive effect on the security of the facility, the significantly improved lines of communication between the participating organizations and the expectations they have of each other, and the experience of how to modify a basic industrial technique to develop a security/vulnerability assessment methodology for the community. © 2004 American Institute of Chemical Engineers Process Saf Prog, 2004