Securing Our Nations Students (SONS) is a comprehensive, all-hazards approach to ensuring a safe and secure school environment that is conducive to learning. The intent of the SONS initiative is to prepare for, assess, respond to, and strive to prevent threats of violence or other crises in schools.

Under SONS, the participating fire, police, and school departments agree to address and respond cooperatively and effectively to threats of violence or any activity, which could lead to potential acts of violence. This joint partnership focuses on activities that take place within the school facilities, on school grounds, at school-sponsored events, and/or locations that have the potential to cause negative repercussions in maintaining a safe-school environment.

Each participating fire, police, and school department should sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA). Prior to the execution of the MOA, the respective departments of each city or town should provide training and information to their staff, designated personnel, and community members to inform them of policy and procedure guidelines. This information and training should be provided on an ongoing basis to ensure personnel receive the most up-to-date information and that new staff are not omitted from the training.

Components of a SONS Program

The key capabilities of a SONS Program include:

  • All-Hazards Emergency Response and Crisis Management Plan: Pursuant to Ohio law, all school districts are required to formulate specific school emergency plans. The law requires all school districts to prepare for and respond to events such as fires, hurricanes, and other natural hazards or incidents in which bodily injury might occur as a result of a shooting, bomb threat, or other terrorist-related event. The sequence of crisis management planning includes four phases: Mitigation and prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery.

  • Formalized Save Our Nations Students Protocols: Under the SONS initiative, the fire chief, police chief, and school superintendent or their respective designees agree to address incidents and threats through response classifications involving varying degrees of consultation, readiness, and intervention. SONS classifies threat assessment levels, assigning low, medium, and high levels of risk that a particular threat will be carried out.

  • Standardized Color-Coded Floor Plans and Door Numbering System: In a crisis, emergency responders need to know the location of everything in a school. As a component of the SONS initiative, floor plans for each school facility will be developed and provided to local public safety and school officials in both hardcopy, CD/USB in electronic PDF format. Additionally, all data can be available through our web enabled FloorView software, which is completely browser-based. A standardized system for numbering school facility doors should also be followed as defined in the floor plan and door numbering section of this manual.

  • Comprehensive Training and Exercise Program: The SONS program relies heavily on training for members of the SONS Team, as well as school administrators, teachers and staff, and local first responders. These individuals then need the opportunity to practice what they’ve learned through exercises designed to test plans, procedures, systems, and personnel.

SONS Goals

The goals of the SONS initiative are as follows:

  • Convene a Response Team to design and implement a comprehensive school violence prevention strategy.

  • Produce a crisis response plan, developed using the SONS multidisciplinary approach, to guide school officials in proper preparation and response actions.

  • Address incidents and threats through response classifications involving varying degrees of consultation, readiness, and intervention.

  • Ensure communication, coordination and interactions between police, fire, and school personnel in a manner which recognizes and respects the mission of each agency.

  • Develop floor plans and critical building-specific information in accordance with State and local laws for each school facility and provide these plans to police, fire, and school department officials in both hardcopy (booklet) and electronic (computer disk) and the recommended web-enabled FloorView (software), which is a browser-based suite of services.

History of SONS

The highly successful SONS program was developed by Critical Response Solutions in 2005, as a regionalized model focusing on preparation, assessment, response and prevention of threats of violence and other incidents in schools. Since then, SONS has provided school systems and municipalities with valuable resources for responding to and often de-escalating threat situations in schools.

The SONS program was established by CRS in partnership with affiliated fire, police and public school departments to ensure professional, effective violence prevention, assessment, and response in recognition and respect for the mission of each agency. The system is based on universally agreed upon procedures and guidelines that determine the need for additional assistance beyond the individual capabilities of any one school, department, or community.

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