In my initial communication, I shared school safety insights I’ve learned through my discussions with K-12 administrators and safety personnel from across the country. I focused on how your emergency notification solution must stand up to real-world scenarios and ensure everyone on your campus (staff, students, visitors, volunteers) quickly knows to take action appropriate to the emergency.
Let’s now turn our attention to the scope of your emergency notification solution. K-12 administrators are often pleasantly surprised when our discussions turn towards radically improving their response to all types of school emergencies, not just active intruder situations. While school shootings have dominated national headlines, thankfully, they remain statistically rare, albeit incredibly tragic. Despite the focus on active shooter tragedies, you must ensure your emergency response solution has the breadth and depth to handle EVERY emergency that arises on your campuses. These can include active shooter, medical emergencies, disgruntled parents or employees, fights, severe weather, evacuations, criminal activity near or at your school, etc. For perspective, 68% of school nurses surveyed said they managed at least one life-threatening medical emergency the previous year (American Academy of Pediatrics). While these incidents don’t make national headlines, they’re still a life and death situation where an inefficient response can have catastrophic results.
In addition to accounting for EVERY type of emergency, your notification solution should also be immediately available to EVERY staff member EVERYWHERE on your campus. School emergencies aren’t confined to only occur in front of teachers and administrators or within the walls of a classroom or hallway. But it’s not uncommon to see emergency solutions limited to fixed locations (e.g., panic buttons on classroom phones or walls) or certain personnel (panic button lanyards provided only to teachers, safety apps available only to those with smartphones). How quickly can your cafeteria worker request help if he/she sees a student having a medical issue? What about your custodian if he/she sees a fight in the hallway or stairwell? Can each of your staff members, from your parking lot or playground, immediately alert the entire campus to take action if he/she sees a dangerous person?
The need for ALL employees to be able to request help – or even initiate a lockdown – via a body-worn device was cited in the MSDHS Safety Commission’s report following the tragic 2018 shooting at Parkland HS. Statistically speaking, more active shooter incidents occur outside of a school building than inside (Center for Homeland Defense Security). You know from your own experience how often medical emergencies, injuries, fights, or other incidents occur outside your school’s walls. So, your solution mustn’t be limited to certain areas or people.
An emergency notification solution can only save lives if it’s available, and it should be available EVERYWHERE on campus, both indoors and outside, empowering EVERY employee to quickly and easily request help for EVERY type of emergency.
Until next time…
Derek Roh served eight years as CIO of Baldwin Co Public Schools (AL), during which time he and his team received national recognition and awards. He managed his own consulting company for six years before joining CENTEGIX in 2018 to help leverage leading-edge technology