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The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 8A: Medical and behavior health emergency response plan; model plan

Section 8A. (a) Each school committee and commonwealth charter school board of trustees shall ensure that every school under its jurisdiction has a written emergency response plan that addresses both medical and behavioral health crises to reduce the incidence of life-threatening medical emergencies and behavioral health crises and to promote efficient and appropriate responses to such emergencies. The plan shall be in addition to the multi-hazard evacuation plan required under section 363 of chapter 159 of the acts of 2000.

(b) Each plan shall include:

(1) a method for establishing a rapid communication system linking all parts of the school campus, including outdoor facilities and practice fields, to the emergency medical or mobile behavioral health crisis response services and protocols to clarify when the emergency medical services or mobile behavioral health mobile crisis response services and other emergency contact people shall be called;

(2) a determination of medical or behavioral health emergency response time to any location on the school campus;

(3) a list of relevant contacts and telephone numbers with a protocol indicating when each person shall be called, including names of professionals to help with post-emergency support;

(4) a method to efficiently direct emergency medical services or behavioral health mobile crisis personnel to any location on campus, including to the location of available rescue equipment;

(5) protocols for informing parents and guardians and reporting to the department when police, emergency medical technicians or other non-behavioral health personnel are contacted to respond to a behavioral health crisis;

(6) safety precautions to prevent injuries in classrooms and facilities;

(7) a method of providing access to training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid for teachers, athletic coaches, trainers and other school staff, which may include training high school students in cardiopulmonary resuscitation; and

(8) the location of any automated external defibrillator device the school possesses, whether its location is fixed or portable and those personnel who are trained in its use.

(c) Each plan shall be developed in consultation with the school principal, school nurse, school mental health counselor or social worker, school athletic director, team physicians, coaches, trainers and local police, fire, behavioral health mobile crisis team and emergency personnel, as appropriate. Schools shall practice the response sequence at the beginning of each school year and periodically throughout the year and evaluate and modify the plan as necessary. School officials shall review the response sequence with local fire and police officials at least 1 time each year and shall conduct periodic walk-throughs of school campuses. Plans shall be submitted once every 3 years to the department, the local police department and the local fire department on or before September 1 of the third year. Plans shall be updated in the event of new construction or physical changes to the school campus as determined by the local police or fire department.

(d) Included in each initial and subsequent filing of an emergency response plan, each school district shall report on the availability of automated external defibrillators in each school within the district, including the total amount available in each school, the location of each within the school, whether the device is in a fixed location or is portable, those personnel or volunteers who are trained in its use, those personnel with access to the device during and after regular school hours and the total estimated amount of automated external defibrillators necessary to ensure campus-wide access during school hours, after-school activities and public events.

(e) The department, in consultation with the department of public health and the department of mental health, shall develop a cost-neutral model emergency response plan that includes both medical and behavioral health crisis response in order to promote best practices, including clear guidelines for the roles and responsibilities of behavioral and other health professionals, including, but not limited to, school counselors and community intervention professionals and, where applicable, school resource officers or police officers on school campuses; provided, however, that such model plan shall be designed to limit referrals to law enforcement or arrests on school property to cases in which an imminent risk to the health and safety of individuals on school property necessitates such referral or arrest. The model plan shall be made available to school committees and commonwealth charter school boards. In developing the model plan, the department shall refer to research prepared by the American Heart Association, Inc., the American Academy of Pediatrics, MassHealth and other relevant organizations that identify the essential components of an emergency response plan. The department shall biennially review and update the model plan and publicly post the model plan on its website.