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EOP vs. IAP: What Is the Difference?

There are many layers to emergency preparedness that a school must consider when planning its response to active threats. An emergency operations plan (EOP) and incident action plan (IAP) are two types of plans that serve different purposes: one being operational and the other, tactical. 

What Is an EOP?

A school’s emergency operations plan, or EOP, is an all-hazards document intended to serve as a foundational guide for overall emergency management. The purpose of an EOP is to prepare school administrators and staff for a wide range of potential incidents on campus, including accidents, natural disasters, and security threats. 

To develop an EOP, school administration must conduct a thorough risk assessment of the school environment and identify potential hazards, and outline hazard-specific approaches to mitigation, prevention, preparation for, and recovery from a range of scenarios. The EOP should establish a chain of command, a communication plan, and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of stakeholders before, during, and after an incident. The EOP should be reviewed and updated periodically, as well as trained upon yearly in collaboration with community stakeholders during drills and exercises.

EOPs are proactive, living documents intended for ongoing planning and readiness. However, the plans are operational and typically lack the tactical processes for executing a large-scale response. This is the purpose of the IAP.

What Is an IAP?

An incident action plan, or IAP, is a dynamic, tactical plan typically created by school administration at the onset of an incident. The purpose of an IAP is to properly manage the incident as it evolves and improve processes moving forward with the lessons learned. As such, IAPs are adaptable and evolve with situational awareness of the specific incident.

An IAP should detail the objectives and strategies to be used by incident commanders, emergency responders, and other key personnel directly involved in managing and responding to the incident. The IAP should provide clear direction, detailed methodologies, and the resources available to accomplish the objectives of the plan. A school’s EOP should be referenced to inform response protocols, while the IAP should define the step-by-step processes or tasks for stakeholders to implement effective incident management.

Comprehensive Emergency Preparedness Planning

While the EOP and IAP are critical components of a school’s emergency management plan, they are not all-inclusive and alone do not ensure a school and its community stakeholders are prepared for any active threat. Comprehensive preparedness relies on additional components, as recognized by Ohio, for example. As is similar with other states, Ohio mandates that schools have a comprehensive, annually tested, and certified Emergency Management Plan (EMP) that includes the following components:

  • An emergency operations plan
  • A floor plan of the school building identifying key infrastructure
  • A site plan with aerial view of the school and surrounding property
  • Emergency contact information sheet
  • Stakeholders signature page for the school administrator, community first responders, and program-specific stakeholders to sign to verify that community stakeholders were aware and involved in the emergency preparedness–planning process

StrataSite™ is an online, cloud-based platform that bridges the gaps between a school’s EOP and the community’s response procedures to form a truly comprehensive emergency response strategy that takes the place of a standard IAP.

The StrataSite™ Active Threat Plan™

The StrataSite™ Active Threat Plan™ is a comprehensive all-points emergency preparedness platform for collaborative incident response planning and training with community stakeholders. This secure, cloud-based software connects school administration with first responders in the community so that they may work together to develop a coordinated emergency response plan.

Members of the planning team can contribute to the plan from any web-enabled device, anywhere, and upload, share, and manage documentation on StrataSite’s Digital Asset Management (DAM) platform, included in every subscription. The DAM is used to store all safety-related documentation, including the school’s EOP, floor plans, risk assessments, and any other relevant content shared amongst stakeholders.

Once the school’s plan is completely developed, all stakeholders can train around the plan on StrataSite’s Learning Management System (LMS), also included in every subscription. The StrataSite LMS helps to ensure engagement with, understanding of, and the retention of the information presented in the plan through quizzes and other activities. School administrators have access to a metrics dashboard to ensure all members are participating in training and track their progress and performance.

Critical Incident Mapping with StrataSite™

An additional feature offered by StrataSite™ is critical incident mapping, which includes emergency preparedness components required of most school districts. School mapping with StrataSite™ includes:

  • Printable and/or digital full GIS format 
  • Building floor plans overlaid on aerial imagery
  • Gridded (x/y) coordinate system with alphanumeric projection for quick site references
  • Building-specific labeling for rooms, hallways, doors, stairwells, locations of hazards, utility locations, key boxes, defibrillators, trauma kits, etc.
  • Site-specific labeling that matches the school grounds, including parking areas, athlete fields, surrounding roads, and neighboring properties

A school’s critical incident map can be created in cooperation with community stakeholders on the StrataSite™ platform and stored on the DAM for real-time reference by all stakeholders during an active threat, while the full GIS map is used by the local 911 center. 

Ensure Your School Is Prepared for Any Emergency

Protecting students and staff during an active threat on your campus comes down to thorough collaborative preplanning and training by all stakeholders. Whether developing an EOP, IAP, or any other emergency plan for your school, the StrataSite™ Active Threat Plan™ can tie all components together to form one complete plan.

Talk to a StrataSite™ representative to find out how to get started on your school’s Active Threat Plan™.

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“StrataSite gives my team the online tools to build comprehensive active threat plans with the speed and accuracy that we've never had before. It's a game changer.”

- Sheriff Michael E. Heldman | Hancock County, Ohio


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