Teachers and school staff today know to expect anything at their place of employment. School occurrences range from health emergencies, fights, and misbehavior to the most terrifying catastrophes like an intruder or active shooter. A school alert system needs to be equipped to direct an immediate response to the right location by the person most capable to handle the emergency. This includes immediately alerting anybody that may be in danger of the situation to allow them to get to safety.
A school safety plan should deliver a swift and dependable response. Knowing exactly who needs help and where enables responders to be fully prepared before entering a situation. Contemporary technology, like a wearable school emergency alert system, provides better options to support teachers and staff in an emergency scenario, from everyday incidents to the extreme.
A school alert system must be effective
Hindsight is 20/20. But it’s best to evaluate your school alert system before it’s necessary to use it. Strengthening your response system before an incident occurs brings peace of mind to teachers and staff.
So where do you begin? Your school likely has tools in place for the safety of the students and staff. These tools can work in conjunction with a newer, more technologically advanced system.
- Evaluate past incidents to evaluate the most likely threats.
- Outline what needs to be done to address these threats.
- Consider the capabilities of the current system and hypothesize gaps.
- Evaluate current tools with new systems against the requirements outlined.
Limitations in traditional school alert systems and methods
Although we all rely on our cell phone apps for plenty of tasks, they’re not the most efficient method of communicating in a crisis. Think about it: in a house fire, your first instinct wouldn’t be to text or email someone to let them know. The same holds true on campus, whether it’s a security threat, a medical emergency, or an intruder alert. When you need an emergency response, you need to be able to easily alert everyone, everywhere, every time.
There are some barriers to getting help when using app-based alert methods. Many teachers rely on personal devices like cell phones to get help in case of an emergency.
Relying on cell phones and apps can cause problems such as:
- The phone isn’t always on the teacher’s person
- Missed notifications on the responder’s end
- Reliability of wifi or cellular signal strength
- The location of the incident is not accurate
- Low adoption and implementation of mobile apps designed for safety
Not all teachers carry their phones on their person all day long. Dresses and other professional attire for female staff may not have pockets to have the phone easily accessible. Once the call or text is made, the responder must have their phone on their person also. If the text or call is missed, the response to the issue is delayed which can have major consequences. Finally, there may be areas of the school where the wi-fi or cellular signal strength is not strong. This can leave a teacher or staff member in a precarious position if a situation arises in an area like a stairwell or playground without reliable cell service.
“We had a third-grade student playing on our playground in the gravel near the swings with a little girl. When she kicked the gravel, his mouth was open. It was a total freak accident, but a rock went straight down his throat. In the past, we’ve had two-way radios assigned to several people around the school. But on this particular day, the teacher on duty had laid hers down on the bench,” said Courtney McBride, Principal of Flomaton Elementary School.
“But she had her CrisisAlert card around her neck. She quickly pressed the button three times. I’ve watched the video several times, and in less than 30 seconds, four adults were there to help. Within one minute, we had seven adults–including two nurses–there to help. We’ve said over and over since then that wherever it cost, CENTEGIX earned its keep that day. We’re so thankful.”
Wall-mounted emergency buttons and phones have downfalls as well:
- They must be within reach of where an incident occurs
- Requires responders to be available on the other end to hear the call for help
Wall-mounted phones and intercoms are not an option for incidents that occur outside of the classroom, in the hallway, on the bus, or on the playground. They also rely on a responder being available on the other end of the intercom or phone at all hours of the day to get a fast response.
A teacher in Florida shares just how easily a call for help can be missed with this system: “It is easy to use. Our intercom/call system doesn’t work well, and if no one is sitting at the front desk, there is no response.”
Two-way radios aren’t the answer, either. Problems can include:
- Heavy and bulky
- Connection and sound quality are not guaranteed
- Only one person can speak at a time
- Location accuracy depends on the person calling for help giving accurate directions
Although a two-way radio can be easy to deploy in a state of emergency, the system heavily relies on the information exchanged by the person calling for help, as well as the responder being available. It can be difficult to relay all the information in a state of panic, when the teacher or staff member may be focused on helping other students. Factors like sound quality and clarity are crucial for garnering an appropriate and immediate response. These factors are not a guarantee and could cost the response team precious seconds.
A teacher in Hillsborough County shares the issues with using a radio before employing a wearable panic button: “My administration is able to respond much faster when the alert goes off instead of the potential misunderstanding that tends to happen when the info is relayed over the radio.”
Some questions to ask about your school emergency alert system:
- Is it accessible in an emergency to everyone at all times?
- Is the system intuitive enough to use in a state of panic?
- Is the solution effective for an everyday incident as well as an extreme incident?
- Can it show the precise location of the incident?
- Does it notify the entire school community when the campus is under threat?
Everyone, Everywhere, Every Time
CrisisAlert was inspired by a traditional fire alarm. When a fire alarm goes off, everyone knows what they are supposed to do. When they see flashing lights at the grocery store, they know to exit the building as quickly as they can. Contacting local authorities to put the fire out is necessary, but lives are saved by people escaping the area quickly.
With improved safety codes, fires aren’t as common of a threat as they were in the early 1900s. The CrisisAlert system utilizes the same visual effects to quickly notify everyone in the building in the case of modern-day emergencies like a lockdown or an intruder. This system helps prevent confusion and panic in a chaotic event. It lets everyone know what to do.
Other features of the CrisisAlert badge from CENTEGIX that ensure an immediate response:
- Desktop takeover notifications for staff ensuring an alert is never missed
- Location accuracy for rapid response
- Prepared for any incident by connecting the persons best prepared to handle the situation
- Not affected by wi-fi or phone outages
- Easily accessible, lightweight, and wearable for everyone
School emergency alert systems should grab the attention of everyone on campus in case of an emergency. Anyone unaware of a dangerous situation is at increased risk. The more immediately teachers and staff can respond to a crisis, the better they can protect themselves and their students. CENTEGIX’s CrisisAlert badge has a 100% adoption rate ensuring everyone is protected in every incident, from the routine to the extreme.
The CrisisAlert solution can alert just the response team or lock down the school and alert everyone, depending on the incident.
One teacher shares their thoughts on the CrisisAlert badge: “I think that CENTEGIX CrisisAlert is an invaluable tool for a classroom teacher. I can quickly and quietly alert my principal when there is a problem in my classroom that needs his assistance. This helps me keep situations from escalating unnecessarily. I am able to contact people wherever I am if there is any sort of emergency. I don’t have to worry about keeping my phone on me so that I can call for help. The ability to quickly lock down the school if there is a lockdown situation is tremendously important. CENTEGIX CrisisAlert will save lives.
The CrisisAlert system empowers teachers and administrators to act and respond with confidence in every situation, from the every day to the extreme. When educators and students feel safe and secure, they can get back to focusing on their goals: learning and academic achievement.
CENTEGIX is the leader in school alert systems. Our CrisisAlert platform is the fastest and easiest way for staff to call for help in an emergency, from the everyday to the extreme. CENTEGIX creates safer spaces by innovating technology to empower and protect people, and leaders nationwide trust our safety solutions to provide peace of mind. To learn more about how CENTEGIX can help you support your teachers and staff, visit www.centegix.com.