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The Window of Life and its Relation to School Safety

One of the major ways Joffe Emergency Services supports our school partners throughout the country is by providing CPR and First Aid training and re-certification to school employees. We do that because it’s legally required, but also because performing CPR in a timely manner can double or even triple a patient’s rate of survival in a cardiac arrest. How we respond in the first moments of an emergency often determines that response’s overall success.

I couldn’t help but think of our CPR background when our Community Response Manager in Washington, DC, Lauryn Goodtree, shared “The Window of Life" with the rest of the Joffe family.

Simply put, The Window of Life is a process you can follow in an emergency to increase the chances of a successful response. It assists you in quickly deciding which actions to take first. This quote describing The Window of Life is taken from the 2013 book Staying Alive: How to Act Fast and Survive Deadly Encounters.

“First, take personal protective action. Then, if it is safe to do so, warn others nearby. Next, and if safe to do so, warn and protect others in and around the building or space before calling 911 or emergency services as soon as you can.”

You can also see a visual representation of the concept below.

window of life


Here’s how this might work in the case of a lockdown on your campus. Let’s say that a staff member sees a potentially dangerous situation from the front office. First, they ensure that their safety is not at risk. Since they are likely the first person to identify the threat, they have the immense responsibility of communicating the danger to everyone else.

That means they must prioritize their own safety first. Once that’s assured, the person might quickly bring students or staff right outside the front office inside to safer territory. The priority then shifts to keeping the entire school as safe as possible. In this case, that would probably involve putting the school into lockdown via a PA announcement, radio, or other form of communication. Finally, the individual would notify public safety by calling local authorities or 911.

Of course, while that's the extent of The Window of Life's instructions, others on your campus will have additional responsibilities in the event of a lockdown, such as keeping the community-at-large updated regularly. However, in the first precious moments of an emergency, keep the maxims of the Window of Life close at hand.


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