While we may hear about active shooter-related lockdowns most often, there are a variety of potential challenges for which a school can employ an emergency notification system.
In fact, according to The U.S. Department of Education’s Building Blocks to School Safety Report, schools should have an emergency operations plan in place that considers all threats and hazards including adversarial and human-caused threats as well as natural hazards like earthquakes and floods.
Further, the report indicates that the plan needs to be comprehensive in nature so that it can effectively provide for the safety of students, staff, and visitors in a range of potential circumstances.
Finally, the report indicates that emergency operations plans must consider all settings and times. It goes on to state that planning teams should consider what is required to provide students, staff, and visitors with timely notifications even in loud areas or spaces beyond the school building itself.
With this in mind, it’s important to consider the various potential threats that could impact a school and how emergency operations plans can be effectively supported by emergency notifications technology for swift and effective responses.
Emergency Notification For Trespassers, Unauthorized Personnel, And Intruders On Campus
Schools nationwide are struggling with how to respond to potential threats including intruders and are seeking grant funding as a way to enhance their emergency response processes. While a safety plan may help schools plan for the potential threat of an intruder, having a proper emergency notification system in place can help facilitate that response more effectively to reduce potential danger.
In addition, integrating the emergency notification system with other technology solutions like access control and video surveillance can facilitate faster responses by showing the location of a trespasser or the movement of unauthorized personnel, in real-time.
Bombs, Bomb Threats, And Explosions
The threat of a bombing can lead to potentially traumatic experiences for students and staff who are on campus when the threat occurs. For example, a recent bomb threat in Belmont, Massachusetts presented a real-life snapshot of a far too common experience. The school received a bomb threat while staff members were in the building. Thankfully, everyone was able to leave the building safely and no students were on campus at the time, but the school remained closed for days as the investigation got underway.
The use of emergency notification systems in bomb threat incidents ensures that when the threat is made, the response is immediate because swift responses help save lives. Integrating your emergency notification system with things like email and text alerts can also allow you to notify law enforcement and first responders at the push of a button.
Emergency Notification For Active Shooters On Campus
Even with a safety plan in place, schools can find themselves in active shooter situations that turn fatal. In fact, after a recent school shooting in Michigan, the experience prompted a deeper review of the school’s safety plan because it had not prevented the deaths of several people during an active shooter event.
Responding to an intruder or other perpetrator during an active shooter event requires immediate action to mitigate damage and loss of life. That’s why the best time to review your safety and security technology infrastructure, including your lockdown and emergency notification system, is before an incident occurs.
Emergency Notification For Severe Weather Incidents
Schools also contend with a variety of severe weather incidents that require immediate response and notification. These include extreme heat, winter weather, landslides, tornados, wildfires, flooding, and earthquakes.
For example, landslides in Oregon shut down the main road leading to school entrances and the unsafe local conditions required school closures as well. Neah-Kah-Nie School District responded by sending a notification alert closing the school so that students and staff were aware of the closure as quickly as possible, preventing them from trying to brave the treacherous conditions to get to school.
In addition, recent coastal wildfires in Orange County, California, led to both residential and school evacuations in Laguna Beach. Some schools held classes in safer, nearby schools requiring not only collaboration between schools, but also proper notification of staff, families, and students.
This is just one instance where utilizing an emergency notification system for wildfire response and evacuation could facilitate faster response times and wide-reaching notification of changes to typical school procedures.
Implementing emergency notification technology to respond to catastrophic weather events allows districts to take charge of the way they respond to conditions beyond their control and allows families, students, and staff to understand how the school district is taking action to keep everyone safe and secure.
The Challenge Schools Face When Responding To So Many Different Potential Threats
While schools typically have plans in place to respond to these events, most have not effectively integrated the different technology systems that help to notify the proper authorities and everyone on campus, both inside buildings and on the grounds, of the threat at hand.
Whether it’s a catastrophic weather event, an intruder, an active shooter, or another emergency situation, how quickly you respond can lessen the potential for disaster.
For this very reason, it is essential to have a comprehensive, automated emergency notification system.
Regardless of the type of emergency you face, your emergency notification system should accomplish the set of objectives we list below to better enable rapid response when every second counts. In this blog, we’re sharing our insights on these top priorities so that you know what your school district needs to do to ensure quick corrective action when encountering an emergency situation – helping to keep your students, teachers, staff, and visitors protected.
Emergency Notification Technology Should Remove Human Error
While school districts nationwide have created thoughtful plans for a variety of time-sensitive situations, when responding to a true emergency as it is occurring, things can become more challenging. Drills help with preparation, but when faced with catastrophe or imminent danger, it is difficult for anyone to think straight, let alone respond in a calm and collected manner.
Emergency notification systems remove the potential for human error and rely instead on automated processes to facilitate communication. These systems also ensure that students, faculty, staff, visitors, and the proper authorities are notified of the danger as quickly as possible.
Not only does this alleviate the burden on administrators and staff to act without error during what can be an incredibly nerve-wracking experience, but it also ensures a rapid response regardless of circumstances.
Emergency Notification Technology Should Cover The Entire Campus
While many emergency response plans address both the inside and outside of a campus or school building, it’s vital that your emergency response technology does the same. More often than not, during our School Safety Audits that we’ve conducted with schools nationwide, we unearth areas of vulnerabilities. In outdoor settings, those areas include athletic fields, parking lots, and other exterior locations of a campus. Within buildings, the same is often true of places like restrooms, stairways, and corridors.
Ensuring that notifications can be provided in all areas of the campus (from loud gymnasiums and cafeterias to far-reaching sports fields and parking lots) is essential to effectively act on an emergency response plan because it ensures that no matter where someone is on campus, they are aware of the situation at hand.
Emergency Notification Technology Should Allow For Rapid Response In An Emergency
It is crucial for the response to an emergency to begin less than twenty seconds from the time that the threat is identified. This means that your emergency notification technology needs to be fast-acting and efficient if it is to be effective in communicating that threat to local law enforcement and first responders so that it can be handled as quickly as possible.
Emergency Notification Technology Should Integrate Seamlessly With Other Technology Solutions
Integrating your emergency notification system with the phone system and paging system is essential to successfully delivering messages. In addition, having a system that integrates with your additional technology infrastructure, like your access control and video surveillance systems, can provide added benefits to your response time. From limiting or restricting access to areas of your buildings and grounds to identifying exactly where the threat is located using real-time surveillance footage, integrating your emergency notification system with these additional platforms only provides greater visibility into the emergency situation to lend to faster resolution. Ultimately, this integration can offer you more opportunities to ensure the safety of your campus.
Why LENS + OPTICS Is The Clear Choice For Your Emergency Notification System
Eastern DataComm offers cutting-edge emergency notification technology solutions to school districts nationwide. Our systems are customizable and easily integrate with technology solutions like VoIP phone systems, video surveillance systems, and access control systems so that every part of your technology infrastructure works in unison to help you communicate effectively in emergencies when every second matters.
Our LENS + OPTICS system streamlines communication so that, at the touch of a button, you can notify everyone of an emergency or active threat. In fact, a series of rapid, automated communications begin at the push of a button including pre-recorded PA announcements, activation of LED beacons and signboards, dissemination of emails and text messages, and prerecorded calls to the law enforcement. OPTICS continuously monitors and tests components that directly contribute to the proper functionality of LENS. OPTICS offers your school community added peace of mind knowing that there are always eyes on your lockdown and emergency notification system.
The entire system is scalable and customizable so that it fits the unique needs of your school campus. To learn more about LENS + OPTICS, click here.
Customize Your Emergency Notification System With Eastern DataComm
To learn more about how our team can help you design and implement an effective emergency notification system for your school district, book your Complimentary School Safety Consultation here.