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Emergency Planning

Comprehensive Emergency Management Planning for Schools (CEMPS)

Comprehensive Emergency Management Planning for Schools (CEMPS) is a program offered to New Hampshire school districts aimed at providing emergency planning to protect school children and adult personnel during natural and manmade disasters.

Providing protection for schools has received a great deal of attention from the news media and public officials at all levels in recent years because of a number of high visibility incidents of school violence. CEMPS was actually started well before those events occurred and it is designed to provide an all-hazards emergency plan that would be put in operation no matter what the emergency.

CEMPS is a process that assists in the development of workable, user-friendly emergency management plans for schools. A school district’s plan is developed by its own personnel in cooperation with local first responders and the New Hampshire Bureau of Emergency Management. That is, the plan is developed by the people who will carry it out when the need arises.

The basic principles of CEMPS are:

  • During an emergency, school personnel become emergency responders.
  • No matter what the emergency the same people will be carrying out the same functions.
  • Plans must be user friendly and team built.
  • All personnel, including students and parents, must know their roles in advance.
  • By conducting drills and exercises, these roles and procedures are tested and refined.

The CEMPS process begins with a 1-2 hour awareness session for school administrative team members. That orientation is aimed at ensuring that school district administrators understand the process. It is followed by a two-day CEMPS workshop for school personnel and local emergency responders, during which the emergency plan is developed and refined. Follow-up activities such as in-service workshops and assistance with exercises are also provided.

There is no cost to school districts. School districts are only asked to provide a suitable venue, limited audio-video support and arrange for food and beverages.

Who should participate in CEMPS? Everyone involved in protecting school children during an emergency.

  • Administrators
  • Custodians or facility manager
  • Secretaries
  • Teachers
  • Nurses
  • Counselors
  • Local emergency response personnel - Fire, Police, Emergency Medical, Emergency Management.
  • School board members
  • Local elected officials
  • Health officers
  • Transportation coordinators
  • Parents/PTA representatives
  • Student representatives

Multiple workshops can be held for large School Administrative Units in order to accommodate all School Emergency Planning Team members.

CEMPS has been enthusiastically received by school officials and emergency responders around New Hampshire. As of July 2005 more than 80 percent of New Hampshire schools had received CEMPS training.

One school district had to put its plan into effect before it was even complete. The Winnisquam School District had finished its two-day workshop on Dec. 3, 1998 when the former J.P. Stevens Mill in Northfield, built in the 1880s, caught fire. The following day, school officials at Union Sanborn Elementary School had to utilize their still-incomplete emergency plan because smoke from the smoldering building made air inside the school un breathable.

The program’s prime goal is to complete CEMPS in all New Hampshire schools and continue with in-service training and exercises to keep emergency plans up to date. Another objective is to aid in the development and delivery of a curriculum in school emergency management planning at the graduate level to school administrators through the state university system.

CEMPS has received media attention from New Hampshire and national news organizations. BEM personnel have also provided assistance for school emergency management programs in Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont, Kansas, Wisconsin, Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Ohio and Alabama.

For more information on CEMPS, contact:

New Hampshire of Bureau of Emergency Management
33 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03305
603-271-2231 or 800-852-3792

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