wearable panic button

School safety has become an important point of discussion for Americans. A safe school environment is crucial for healthy academic and social development. Research confirms that students’ perception of safety is directly related to their academic achievement. When students feel unsafe, their mental health, attendance, tardiness rates, and academic performance can all be negatively impacted. Additionally, school staff need to feel safe to do what they do best—help students learn and grow.

Many jurisdictions have enacted legislation that requires public schools to address safety concerns with technology. For example, some school emergencies require a quick response, in which a school alert system and wearable panic button technology would be the most helpful. Other situations may be more easily resolved by knowing exactly who is on campus with visitor monitoring or reunification capabilities. However, no one technology or school alert system can guarantee school safety. Here’s how to test a multi-layered school safety plan.

School Safety Requires a Multi-layered Safety Plan

Most schools have some safety measures in place. Today, nearly 100% of schools serving 12- to 18-year-olds use at least one safety or security measure. However, the efficacy of those measures and how they work together is difficult to measure.

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) has supported other school safety technology evaluations through the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative (CSSI). This initiative includes a report from the Library of Congress outlining federal school safety efforts between 1990 and 2016 and projects by the RAND Corporation and Johns Hopkins University, which evaluate current school technology and outline school needs.

The CSSI reviews of school safety technology concluded that no one technology, school climate intervention, or other school safety strategy can guarantee school security or eliminate the underlying cause of school violence. A layered approach that includes emergency response plans, drills, a positive school climate, and situational awareness is necessary, and school safety plans must be tailored to meet the unique needs of each school.

There are five elements of a school safety plan:

  • Equipment and technology
  • Site and building design features
  • School Security Personnel
  • Policies and procedures
  • Training, exercises, and drills

Access to adequate safety technology is the foundation of any great safety plan. Hardware, physical infrastructure, cameras, and wearable panic button technology all make up a school alert system. All facets of the safety plan must effectively integrate and function concurrently to make schools safer. Once your school implements a safety plan, it should be tested to ensure optimal performance. 

CENTEGIX Safety Platform

Why Testing School Emergency Response Plans is Critical

Safety is a primary concern for school leaders, so planning an assessment can be stressful. Where do you start? First, consider the various components that make up your school’s physical security system. Things like equipment and technology, site and building design features, school safety and security personnel, policies and procedures related to school safety and security training, exercises, and drills are all relevant factors. Do you have a school alert system? Are staff and faculty able to quickly respond to emergencies and request help with reliable technology, such as a wearable panic button?

Next, consider how everything works together to meet your school’s specific needs. Are there gaps in safety procedures or equipment that could be improved? The answer is most likely yes—that is why testing your emergency response and safety plans is critical. Closing safety gaps and addressing shortcomings proactively is the best way to avoid malfunction when an incident occurs. 

A successful, unbiased safety assessment provides school leaders with a wealth of knowledge regarding their school’s safety plan. Here are a few questions safety assessments can raise: 

  • Are there government safety mandates you must comply with?
  • Are there physical security and safety measures in place at each layer of your school safety plan?
  • How do the components of the physical safety system work together at each layer?
  • What technologies are in place at each layer?
  • Is there full campus coverage?
  • Are there policies and procedures in place to ensure safety technologies are operated in a way that will maximize safety benefits?
  • Are there policies and procedures in place to inform members of the school community of appropriate actions they should take when an emergency happens?

Safety assessments reveal gaps in school safety plans, technology, and training. Conducting assessments allows schools to gain an unbiased understanding of what they’re doing well and what they need to improve to make their schools safer. More schools are beginning to see how their safety plans can improve with technology. Thereis a major trend toward building a comprehensive school alert system, complete with tools such as wearable panic button technology to empower staff and encourage safety.

Wearable safety button

How to Test School Safety Plans

Test 1: Medical Emergency on Campus.

Medical emergencies demand quick and efficient responses, with first responders needing to promptly identify the location of safety assets. Here’s how you can test your school’s readiness:

Steps to Follow:

  1. Simulate a Medical Situation: Create a realistic medical emergency scenario, such as a student fainting or a sports injury on the playground.
  2. Time the Response: Measure the time it takes for the alert to be sent to the appropriate staff. Assess how quickly the safety asset (e.g., first aid kit, AED) is obtained and reaches the scene.
  3. Monitor Communication: Monitor who receives the alert and the steps they take to respond. Evaluate the clarity and effectiveness of the communication.

The most important factors to access when testing the efficiency of your school’s medical emergency response are:

  • Speed and accuracy of alert dissemination
  • Response time of the staff
  • Availability and functionality of medical equipment
  • Coordination between staff members
  • Overall efficiency in handling the situation

Test 2: Emergency Evacuation and Reunification Scenario. 

An emergency evacuation requires a calm and orderly exit from the premises, followed by a safe reunification of students with their guardians. Here’s how to test it:

Steps to Follow:

  1. Conduct a Fire Drill Simulation: Initiate a fire drill without prior notice to accurately simulate an emergency situation. Ensure the alert reaches all students, staff, and faculty promptly.
  2. Measure Evacuation Time: Time how long it takes for the alert to be broadcasted and for everyone to begin evacuating. Monitor the time taken to clear the building entirely.
  3. Assess Reunification Process: Simulate the reunification of students with their guardians post-evacuation. Evaluate the efficiency of the process, including how students are accounted for and handed over to their guardians

The most important factors to access when testing the efficiency of your school’s emergency evacuation and reunification procedures are:

  • Speed and efficiency of alert dissemination
  • Coordination in evacuating the building
  • Speed and accuracy of the reunification process
  • Communication clarity during the evacuation and reunification
  • Effectiveness of designated safe areas

Test 3: Real-World Unauthorized Visitor Scenario.

A realistic unauthorized visitor scenario tests the school’s ability to handle potential threats from unwelcome guests. Here’s how to conduct this test:

Steps to Follow

  1. Create a Scenario: Have someone unfamiliar to the staff simulate an unauthorized visitor attempting to gain access to the school. Introduce a complication, such as a visitor becoming uncooperative or aggressive.
  2. Monitor Entry Attempts: Monitor how the visitor attempts to gain access, such as following behind students or using propped-open doors. Observe how quickly and effectively the staff identifies and responds to the unauthorized visitor.
  3. Engagement and Reporting: Measure the time taken to report and engage with the intruder. Evaluate staff participation in recognizing and responding to the threat.

The most important factors to access when testing the efficiency of your school’s response to an unauthorized visitor scenario are:

  • Promptness in identifying the unauthorized visitor
  • Effectiveness of communication and alert systems
  • Staff and student adherence to safety protocols
  • Response time of security personnel
  • Coordination between different departments in addressing the threat

Wearable safety button

The CENTEGIX Safety Platform™: The Foundation of a Multi-layered School Safety Plan

The CENTEGIX Safety Platform™ makes it easy to implement an effective school safety plan. It also allows for easy assessment and adjustment. Here’s what we offer:

CENTEGIX CrisisAlert™. CrisisAlert was initially created to reduce response times when unthinkable emergencies happen. When CENTEGIX was designing the CrisisAlert wearable panic button, it prioritized insights from those directly impacted by school emergencies. With our CrisisAlert wearable panic button, staff can quickly and discreetly request help at their exact location. Because in a crisis, every second matters.

CENTEGIX Safety Blueprint™. High-quality, dynamic maps are critical to almost every effective school alert system. With Safety Blueprint, schools own their maps and mapping data, enabling them to quickly and securely share with law enforcement and first responders. Safety Blueprint is an intelligent response mapping solution to help you optimize incident response, safety planning, and visitor management.

CENTEGIX Visitor Management. Keeping the school community safe means you need to know who’s visiting, when they’re visiting, and where they’re permitted on campus. CENTEGIX’s Visitor Management lets you easily check-in and authenticate all visitors, giving you confidence and peace of mind that only permitted, verified visitors are on campus. The Enhanced Visitor Management feature locates visitors in real-time, informing first responders and school administrators during an emergency. 

CENTEGIX Reunification. Schools need a reunification plan that helps you confirm all students and staff are safe and reunited with approved guardians after an emergency. Manual reunification checklist processes can be inefficient and may slow down emergency recovery. CENTEGIX’s cloud-based solution digitizes reunification to prioritize efficiency and help school leaders regain control when order turns into disarray.

Every second matters.® The CENTEGIX Safety Platform, featuring the CrisisAlert wearable panic button, makes a layered and tested school safety plan possible. CENTEGIX is a national leader in developing innovative safety solutions that help keep communities safe from potential threats and accelerate emergency response. The CENTEGIX Safety Platform utilizes dynamic digital mapping, real-time visitor locating capabilities, an easy-to-use wearable emergency button, and reunification capabilities to plan for and respond faster to emergencies. 

Click here to learn more about what we can do for your school and to see a demo of the CENTEGIX Safety Platform.