We depend on teachers to do so much for our students: prepare lessons, engage students, grade homework, and maintain a safe environment. But teachers are far from being the only adults who interact and care for children throughout the day. When implementing a school alert system, it’s critical to remember all school personnel, including custodians, bus drivers, food service workers, and front office staff.

According to CENTEGIX’s 2023 Spring Term School Safety Trend Report, about 50 percent of the incidents where a mobile panic button was activated occurred outside the classroom.

Of these incidents, 

  • 19% occurred in the hallway
  • 11% occurred in the parking lot, playground, or other outdoor locations
  • 7% occurred in the gym
  • 4% occurred in the cafeteria
  • 2% occurred in the administration or front office

It is crucial to think beyond teachers when implementing an incident alert system. Ensuring any staff member can quickly request help in the case of an incident on campus results in a fast response, wherever the incident occurs on school grounds. 

School Safety Begins on the Bus

Bus drivers get to know students well and could be able to recognize and mitigate incidents while dropping off students at school or while students are boarding after class. By training bus drivers to recognize situations like mental health crises, they will be the first to recognize when a student is acting differently or showing warning signs. They might overhear a concerning conversation between students and be able to request help while the students are arriving or departing the school campus. By knowing when and how to respond, bus drivers can prevent an incident caused by a student’s mental health crisis.

The end of a school day can be very busy and chaotic. While students are boarding the school bus after a long day, bus drivers must respond rapidly if any incidents occur. If a student elopes or a fight breaks out, there should be a plan for bus drivers to get help. These plans should account for bus yards that are part of a school site, and also those that are separate sites on their own. 

CENTEGIX collects safety data throughout the school year about the efficiency of its CrisisAlert system. Out of the 1200 responses collected during the 2023 spring term, multiple occurred on or near the bus. One user shared this story: “A student was having a hard time getting off the bus.” This user shared that before their school used the CENTEGIX school alert system, they would have needed to use their radio, which was not possible given the situation.  “I instructed another staff member to press the button and a team of people were able to find us based on the location.”

The CENTEGIX incident response solution provided responding administrators with the exact location of the incident. Giving bus drivers access to school safety technology ensures they can get the response necessary to medical emergencies, fights, and other incidents on the bus. 

CENTEGIX mobile panic button

Safety in the Cafeteria

Four percent of CrisisAlert incidents occurred in the cafeteria. Food service workers and cafeteria supervisors are busy trying to feed students in a short amount of time. 

There may not be a phone nearby, and workers may not have service for their cell phones. An incident response solution with a mobile panic button can enable cafeteria workers to request help quickly without needing to search for a phone and relay a message about what is happening and where.

As students eat breakfast or lunch, there are unique risks, such as allergic reactions or choking. 

Some characteristics of the typical school cafeteria eating experience enhance the risk of choking while behavioral factors may also affect a child’s risk. For example, high activity levels while eating, such as walking or running, talking, laughing, and eating quickly, may increase a child’s risk of choking.

One CENTEGIX user had a scary experience with a student choking. Here is their story: “A student was choking in the cafeteria. I used the CENTEGIX badge and continued to perform the Heimlich maneuver. Help arrived very quickly. Luckily, the student is ok.” 

Using a mobile panic button like CENTEGIX’s CrisisAlert, a staff member can request help while administering aid, like in the story above. This user said that if they hadn’t had the CENTEGIX CrisisAlert badge, they would have had difficulty getting cell service and struggled to power up, unlock, and access the right app. Time spent calling or sending someone to get help would have delayed aid for the choking student. 

Suppose a fight breaks out in a crowded cafeteria. Enabling school staff to request help quickly is critical for the safety of students in a chaotic situation.

Furthermore, a situation may arise where a cafeteria worker may have a medical incident and need help themselves. In these particular cases, such as the one in Muscogee County schools, the immediate deployment of responders to the right location with mobile panic alert technology made all the difference. 

School Custodians and School Safety Plans

School custodians might be left out regarding school safety planning, but that is a mistake. They understand the layout of the school and know the day-to-day operations. They are a critical asset in planning and preventing crises. 

They may also witness incidents outside the classrooms, such as in the hallway (where 11 percent of incidents were reported) or in the bathroom. A mobile panic button empowers custodial staff to keep students safe and even save their lives. 

School custodians handle several chemicals that can become a safety hazard quickly. Requesting help promptly can prevent them from injuring themselves or others if a fast response is warranted. 

They also often work after hours when other staff might not be present to witness a medical emergency, break-in, or other incident. By wearing a mobile panic button like CENTEGIX’s CrisisAlert, custodians can feel safe working alone into the evening. 

CENTEGIX mobile panic button

Extra Safety After Hours 

Those who work after-hours, like security guards and custodians, remain in the school premises during silent, vulnerable times. These individuals can potentially face security threats or health emergencies, sometimes with no immediate assistance available. 

By integrating a rapid response mobile panic button into a comprehensive safety plan, you can ensure early and efficient intervention even during after-hours. It empowers the custodial and security staff to quickly raise an alert, providing a precise location to responders, in case of situations ranging from a health crisis to an unexpected break-in.

Librarians Saving Lives

Librarians can be one of your most critical safety assets, like librarian Diana Haneski was during the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook. These incidents are incredibly rare, but they show the importance of including all staff in school safety training and giving access to school alert systems. 

CENTEGIX’s 2023 Spring Term School Safety Trends Report found that only two percent of alerts initiated using their school alert system were schoolwide emergencies. But it’s still essential to have a plan in case of the worst. Libraries can be the source of fires, security breaches, crisis medical situations, and active shooters, so equipping all school staff with the tools they need to respond rapidly is critical. 

The Front Office: The First Line of Defense

Front office employees can be left particularly vulnerable as they are likely the first stop for someone entering from the outside. Office staff need access to the school alert system to request help if an unauthorized person is trying to enter the building. 

Front desk staff can be critical in protecting the school from security threats. One front desk employee used their CENTEGIX badge request for help when a car was driving erratically and swerving all over the road before stopping directly in front of the campus. Sensing this person could be a threat to the school, the employee was able to ask for backup in addressing the potentially dangerous situation. Of the CENTEGIX badge, they said, “Pushing the button alerted all the admin within our district who immediately came to my assistance. It would have taken much more time for me to call those people individually. I received help within a very short time.” 

In this particular instance, the driver was a parent who had fallen asleep at the wheel and did not present a threat to the school. However, due to the front desk person having proper training and access to the school alert system, they felt safe addressing the situation with the support of other administrators.

Front office staff could also benefit from using a visitor management solution as part of their comprehensive and multi-layered safety plan. CENTEGIX Visitor Management allows front office staff to screen every visitor on campus, and with the CENTEGIX Enhanced Visitor Management feature, staff are able to locate visitors in real time with innovative mapping technology. 

Empowering Every Staff Member with CENTEGIX’s School Alert System

Teachers often use the CrisisAlert school alert system for help with medical incidents, behavioral problems, and other situations. But they are not the only ones who need access to mobile panic buttons. 

Custodians have used CENTEGIX after hours during an attack, cafeteria staff members have experienced a heart attack during school hours, and staff have saved a child choking on the playground. You never know when or where an incident will occur and who will be there to witness it. Training and equipping every staff member with a wearable mobile panic button is essential. You never know whose life they may save.