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Emergency Safety Interventions (ESI)

The word intervention in the term Emergency Safety Intervention (ESI) describes the appropriate way to intervene with dangerous behavior. The word intervention in this term does not refer to a teaching strategy or behavior intervention. With this clarification in mind, we can better understand that an ESI is to be used only in a situation that poses imminent danger. An ESI is not a solution for improving dangerous behavior or teaching a new skill. 


What is an ESI?

Any time a student is physically restrained or is placed in seclusionary time out, it is considered an Emergency Safety Intervention (ESI).

According to the 2023 LRBI Manual, "neither seclusionary time out nor physical restraint are effective in reducing the long-term occurrence of behaviors that pose immediate danger to the student or others—and that is not their purpose. ESIs are emergency measures of last resort to prevent imminent serious harm to an individual in a school setting, not teaching strategies or behavior interventions. ESIs are highly intrusive and carry the risk of significant harm to the student and staff involved (including trauma, injury, and death). They may be used only by trained personnel who have demonstrated competency in their use" (USBE, 2023, pp. 175-176).

Physical restraint is defined as a personal restriction that immobilizes or significantly reduces the ability of a student to move the student's arms, legs, body, or head freely (USBE, 2023, p. 174).

Seclusionary Time Out means that a student is:

  1. Placed in a safe enclosed area by school personnel in accordance with the requirements of the Utah Administrative Code;
  2. Purposefully isolated from adults and peers; and 
  3. Prevented from leaving, or reasonably believes that the student will be prevented from leaving, the enclosed area (USBE, 2023, p. 174).

When do I use an ESI?

Emergency Safety Interventions (ESI) should only be used when a student’s behavior poses imminent danger of serious physical harm to self or others.

ESIs should not be used as a routine strategy implemented to address instructional problems or inappropriate behavior (e.g., disrespect, noncompliance, insubordination, being out of seat), as a means of coercion or retaliation, or as a convenience (USBE, 2023, p. 176).

According to Utah Code §53G-8-302, “A school employee may use reasonable and necessary physical restraint in self-defense or when otherwise appropriate to the circumstances to:

  1. Obtain possession of a weapon or other dangerous object in the possession or under the control of a student;
  2. Protect a student or another individual from physical injury;
  3. Remove from a situation a student who is violent; or
  4. Protect property from being damaged, when physical safety is at risk" (USBE, 2023, p. 174).

Do I need training to use an ESI?

Sometimes adult responses to a behavioral/emotional crisis inadvertently lead to behavior escalation (USBE, 2023, p. 169). Training in nonphysical de-escalation strategies can lead to better management and response to behavioral crises, and may prevent the need for an ESI (USBE, 2023, p. 169).

In the event that Emergency Safety Interventions are needed, any staff member participating in an ESI must be trained and certified in an evidence-based crisis management program. In Jordan School District, ASPEN is the program provided to all personnel (USBE, 2023, pp. 168-169). However, some locations are required to have Mandt training. The primary purpose of both of these training programs is to teach de-escalation and prevention strategies. All staff who are trained must complete an annual recertification. Information about upcoming ASPEN training sessions can be found on JPLS.

How do I document an ESI?

Whenever an Emergency Safety Intervention Occurs:

  1. Notify your administration as soon as possible.
  2. Notify the student's parent or guardian as soon as reasonably possible and before the student leaves the building. This can be done by email, over the phone, or in person.
  3. In addition, you must email the parent or guardian to notify them that they may receive a copy of the student's ESI documentation upon request. Click the link to view a sample email.
  4. Fill out an Emergency Safety Intervention Report to document the event.
  5. Send a copy of both the ESI form and the parent notification email to JBAT at
  6. Take time to debrief with your team.

Who do I need to notify after an ESI?

Parent/Guardian Notification

When an ESI is used, the student's parent/guardian must be notified as soon as reasonably possible and before the student leaves the school (USBE, 2023, p. 189). This can be done by email, over the phone, or in person. If the ESI is used for more than 15 minutes, an additional notification must be made immediately (USBE, 2023, p. 189).

Within 24 hours of the ESI, the school must notify the parent/guardian by email that they are entitled to request copies of any notes or additional documentation taken during the use of the ESI (USBE, 2023, p. 189). The student's parent/guardian must be provided with this documentation if it is requested (USBE, 2023, p. 189).

School Administration Notification

When an ESI is used, the school must notify school administration as soon as reasonably possible and before the student leaves the school (USBE, 2023, p. 189). In addition, if the ESI is used for more than 15 minutes, the school must immediately provide an additional notification to school administration (USBE, 2023, p. 189).

Physical Restraint vs. Physical Escort

Physical restraint is defined as "a personal restriction that immobilizes or significantly reduces the ability of a student to move the student's arms, legs, body, or head freely (USBE, 2023, p. 175)."

A Physical escort is when a student’s hand, wrist, arm, shoulder, or back is temporarily touched in order to guide the student to another location (USBE, 2023, p. 175). During physical guidance, a student’s movement is not restricted, and this is not considered an emergency safety intervention.

Because the use of ESIs is prohibited for non-dangerous or non-emergency reasons, physical guidance is available as a less restrictive method of managing a student’s behavior and ensuring safety.

Crisis Planning and Prevention

When it comes to crisis management, both the USBE and Utah legislature support a proactive approach focused on prevention. Knowing our students' individual needs and understanding what behavior escalation looks like for them will help us respond appropriately before a crisis occurs.

Map Out Your Student's Crisis Cycle

Image of a blank copy of the Individual Student Crisis Cycle Worksheet.

Understanding the Crisis Cycle, and how an individual student moves through it from baseline to peak crisis, can help us plan how to respond at each phase. Every student's behavior will look different as they escalate through the Crisis Cycle. Being able to label where they are at and having a pre-planned response can encourage de-escalation and prevent a crisis from occurring.

To map our your student's crisis cycle, download the Individual Student Crisis Cycle worksheet. Fill out the phases for a specific student, list steps to respond at each phase, and make sure every adult on the student's team is trained on the plan you create.

Create an Individual Crisis Response Plan

Screenshot of part of the Individual Crisis Response Plan.

An Individual Crisis Response Plan is important to ensure and maintain safety for students and adults if a crisis does occur. This plan includes a detailed description of what a student's unsafe behavior looks like, warning signs and triggers, and de-escalation strategies that do and don't work. There is also a space to detail a specific crisis response, as well as who will respond.

When each member of a team is prepared and ready to act, a behavior crisis can be managed efficiently and safely.

Effective Teaming and Collaboration

The most important piece to managing and preventing a crisis is to reach out for support when you need it. Be sure to work with your school team and utilize the resources you have within your school. If additional support is needed, JBAT is available to help consult on a specific plan for your student's needs, to debrief with you, and to help you respond in case of an emergency.