Chris Joffe’s Worst Nightmare

In the school safety world, I’m often asked about my worst nightmare. Like you, I fear the worst case scenario and, trust me, the worst, worst case scenario you’re thinking of is probably 1/3 as scary as the one in my mind. Mine involve alien invasions, zombie apocalypses, and parents…Oh, do my worst case scenarios involve parents…

That said, while I think about your parents storming the school (real thing, by the way, in the midst of a lockdown or earthquake – I’ve seen it!), I’m also thinking about the powerful faculty and staff, the incredibly resilient students, and all the practice we’ve had for situations just like this.

Take a moulage drill, for example. In a moulage drill, we challenge each team (Search & Rescue, Command Center, First Aid, Reunification, Long Range Care, Rovers, and others as appropriate) with these realistic scenarios. Just a few weeks ago, one of the scenarios read:

“Your job is special. You need to overwhelm the command center. (They don’t know you’ve been assigned to this job, so make it real.) You are telling them that you must leave… You’re some sort of conspiracy theorist, and you’re absolutely sure that this earthquake was human-created and you have to get home to check your house and pets. Fight them until they send you to counseling, dismiss you, or handle it appropriately. If they dismiss you, find Chris Joffe, and give him a report of what and how it happened.”


We use scenarios like this because they’re real. If you’ve ever been a part of a big earthquake or present during a massive police response, you know that people respond with unmistakable insanity to emergencies.

But because we practice these scenarios and have communication drills in which your communications director “speaks to the media” and your head of school goes “missing,” I’m not afraid of those things happening. I know you’re ready for it, and I know you’ll call us if you’re not – what are 24/7 emergency resources good for if you don’t call them, after all?!

What I’m really terrified of is the school that is mid-process. Their CFO is reviewing the contract and their safety committee is evaluating whether a process like ours makes sense, but they haven’t come fully on board yet. They don’t have a response manager. They don’t know our emergency line phone number. They don’t know that if ANY school, client or not, calls in the midst of a crisis, we will help if we’re able!

Our process has become this incredibly iterative, dynamic, and fluid system – so, yeah, if the emergency happens on day one of our work with a school, I’m fully aware that we’ll have to lead the school through the emergency. I’m okay with that. I just need them to call us so we can join the response and start creating solutions.

If you’re one of these mid-process schools – or not even that far yet! – please contact us by calling (310) 525-6333 or sending a message to This is the perfect time to start planning for the 2017-2018 school year. Don’t hesitate!


Chris Joffe, Chief Executive Officer