The new school year brings new anxieties. Students worry about navigating a different path between classes, meeting new teachers and classmates, and entering a more challenging grade. Teachers are busy preparing the room for a new batch of students. Parents fret over their children’s mental and physical well-being. With a new school year upon us, school safety is at the top of every parent, teacher, and school administrator’s mind. Educating everyone with a solid school safety plan will help lessen the stress on students, staff, and parents as we enter the school year.
Nationwide, schools are making an effort to make campuses safer for all students. Georgia, for example, has invested in school safety grants and more counselors to address students’ emotional and mental well-being. They have implemented policies requiring schools to have school safety plans, one of the most important school safety resources. Even if it’s not required, summer break is an ideal time to create or refresh your school safety plan.
What Should a School Safety Plan Include?
When people think of school safety plans, their minds often jump to protection against newsmaking scenarios like school shootings and natural disasters. While these incidents should absolutely be included in a school safety plan, the truth is they are rare instances.
You’ll want to make sure you have a plan for the far more common incidents like:
- behavioral issues
- physical altercations
- medical emergencies
While plans vary from school to school, your school safety plan should:
- Prepare staff to respond accordingly regardless of the nature of the incident.
- Provide tools for staff and first responders, such as a floor plan of the school and a map of school safety resources.
- Explain how to assess, respond, and report a variety of incidents.
School safety plans often focus on deterring incidents from taking place. But some instances, like medical emergencies, will happen despite prevention efforts.
Medical Emergencies in School Settings
Medical emergencies are more common in school settings than one might think. CENTEGIX’s 2023 Spring Term School Safety Trend Report found that medical emergencies make up over 10 percent of all safety-related incidents where CrisisAlert™was used.
Medical emergencies that could strike during the typical school day include:
- concussion during a football practice
- allergic reaction from a bee sting on the playground
- broken arm from a fall from the monkey bars
- a staff member has a seizure in the parking lot
- cardiac arrest in the classroom
Medical emergencies can happen anywhere, and they require a fast response.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released updated recommendations in 2022 for managing medical emergencies at school. Part of their rationale for updating these recommendations is due to the steady increase in children with special health care needs that attend mainstream schools. 19 percent of children have special health care needs. Schools serve a number of students with chronic health conditions, such as heart conditions, epilepsy, and asthma, who risk having serious health emergencies at any time. These needs must be considered when creating a school safety plan and developing school safety resources.
With a well-prepared school safety plan and school safety resources in place to address any medical emergency, parents can rest assured that their children, even those with medical conditions, will be taken care of at school.
Traditional Methods vs. Crisis Technology: Limitations and Challenges
Traditionally, if a student faints during a class, a teacher would have to either rush out of the room or send a student to call for help. They may have a two-way intercom or class phone they can use to call the nurse’s office. With the rise of cell phones, teachers may be asked to use their personal devices to report a medical emergency.
None of these methods are ideal. A teacher leaving a classroom leaves students unsupervised, which is another risk. Relying on a student to go for help could fail if the student panics, gets lost, or doesn’t properly convey the situation. Even in a best-case scenario, it still takes time for the messenger to reach the office of the nurse or administrator. Using a phone is faster, but a landline or intercom isn’t helpful if the situation occurs outside of the classroom.
CENTEGIX’s 2023 Spring Term School Safety Trend Report found that nearly 50% of incidents happen outside of the classroom, making an intercom or landline inaccessible in this situation. When teachers are outside, they may not have their cell phone on their person, and if they do, they may not have direct contact information for the nurse or school resource officer.
All of these situations rely on the nurse or administrator being in their office or answering their phone. This is not a guarantee. There must be a better plan.
Going Beyond Traditional Approaches
As we can see, traditional methods have too many limitations to be considered the best option in a situation where every second matters. Crisis technology is a school safety resource that relays information accurately, thoroughly, and instantaneously, ensuring no key details are left out.
The CrisisAlert panic button is worn around teachers’ and staff members’ necks along with their ID card. It can be triggered with three presses from anywhere on campus, allowing teachers and staff members to act quickly and instinctively in a scary situation. The alert is then sent immediately to designated responders, sharing the location of the incident and who sent the alert. This allows help to come immediately, without wasting precious time explaining the situation and where it is occurring. The CrisisAlert system empowers teachers and staff to save lives.
One teacher shared this story of how the CrisisAlert system saved a student during an after-school activity: “During the school’s Homecoming Dance, a student became ill and passed out on the floor. A nearby student got my attention and I used the badge to signal for assistance since I could see the semi-conscious student. The dance was very loud and well-attended, so the badge made it possible to get more help to the location sooner.”
Another teacher shared how the real-time locating technology of the CrisisAlert badge allowed help to arrive exactly where it was needed during a medical emergency. “A student was having a seizure on the playground. I have a class of over 20 children, so I had to get help out there without leaving my other students. I pressed the alert and the principal, assistant principal, nurse, counselor, and resource officer were on the playground to assist me within 2 minutes. They knew exactly where to find me and got there as quickly as possible. It would not have been a good situation without the badge.”
Medical emergencies sometimes involve teachers as well. In the Brantley County School district, “less than a month after the staff was trained, a teacher was working one-on-one with a student. Hearing what sounded like crying, a colleague went to investigate what the sound was and where it was coming from. What she found was the teacher falling to the floor. The investigating teacher called for help, and another teacher rushed in and pressed her CrisisAlert badge three times, alerting the school’s principal and nurse to an emergency.”
CENTEGIX’s Safety Blueprint is a digital campus map and the location foundation for CrisisAlert that provides administrators and first responders with real-time updates on the location of emergencies, quickening the response with visual guidance and providing prompt medical attention. By integrating the school’s safety plan with emergency services and personnel, those in need can receive the help they need as quickly as possible, leading to a coordinated effort to keep children alive and healthy.
How New School Safety Resources Can Save Lives
The Task Force for Preventing Sudden Death in Secondary School Athletics Programs created best practices that called for schools to:
- Establish an efficient communication system to activate EMS at each athletic venue.
- Establish a communication system to alert on-site responders to the emergency and its location.
These best practices, among others, have been endorsed widely. Secondary school athletic populations lead the nation in athletic-related deaths. Prevention and an emergency response plan that is campus-wide can help change this horrifying statistic.
CENTEGIX’s CrisisAlert offers 100% user adoption and works anywhere on campus, allowing all school employees to be prepared to respond to an emergency. If a food service worker notices a student choking in the cafeteria during lunch, he can quickly activate the badge on his way over to the person choking. If a football player faints during practice after school, the coach can activate the emergency alert no matter how far from the main office he is. If a student with a heart condition has an episode during class, a teacher can send an alert that will get a nurse an AED as rapidly as possible and improve the chances of a life-saving outcome.
Medical emergencies can happen to anybody, anywhere. CENTEGIX’s school safety technology is there to protect everyone on campus, at all times.
Protect your school with an advanced, comprehensive, and intuitively designed incident response solution. See in action the difference a tailored school safety plan can make—schedule a demo to experience firsthand how our solution can turn your school into a safe and supportive environment for all. Don’t compromise on safety. Act now and equip your school community with the peace of mind they deserve.