Our team recently attended the 2019 Campus Security & Life Safety Summit to learn about new solutions and technologies that aim to improve security and emergency response plans at school campuses. During the summit, we heard firsthand accounts from university and school district police chiefs who work to protect campuses across the country, as well as insights on crisis communication, active shooter situations and threat prevention from industry experts.
Below are our top three takeaways from the event to help facility managers ensure their campuses are prepared for a number of emergency situations:
1. Prepare a Multilayer Response Plan
A layered emergency response and notification plan is key to keeping your students and staff safe. By using multiple systems, such as text messages, emails, visual alerts and audible announcements, you can ensure students and staff see or hear critical updates in a timely manner, no matter where they are or what they’re doing on campus.
Campus Safety Magazine’s “2019 Emergency Notification Special Report” found that overall demand for emergency notification solutions has increased to 57% from 51% in 2017. Nearly one-third of protection professionals at K-12 and higher education schools surveyed said they plan to deploy new or upgraded emergency notification systems for the 2019-2020 school year.
Implementing multiple systems helps schools avoid single points of failure because the strengths of one system can compensate for the weaknesses of others. Systems such as Primex OneVue offer various integrations points with facilities’ existing PA and text systems to help facility managers develop robust emergency response plans that keep students and staff members informed with critical notifications, ensuring their safety. In addition, Primex OneVue offers post-event reporting to validate a critical notification was prompted, calling out the type of notification, time notification was triggered and time the “All Clear” was disseminated.
2. Empower Staff to Make Emergency Notifications
According to the Journal of Emergency Medical Services, the average response time for emergency responders in critical situations on campuses, such as an active shooter at large, is approximately 10 minutes. However, the most critical events are typically finished in under 5 minutes.
That’s why whenever staff members spot suspicious activity or behavior, they should feel empowered to initiate a critical notification alert or make the call to emergency responders. Officer Rick Gramger and Lt. Dave Klug, the first responders to the mass casualty shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, on Feb. 14, 2018, indicated that the incident recorded nearly four minutes before a code red was called in. Yet, gunfire had gone off a few times before that call.
This underscores the urgency to disseminate emergency notifications as quickly as possible, starting with properly training teachers and staff to use the notification system that’s outlined in the school’s emergency response plan. This can save critical minutes and increase survivability.
3. Educate Students to Report Suspicious Behavior
Students can be the first to properly identify emergency situations and prevent severe incidents, such as an active shooter on campus. It’s prudent that students are taught “see something, say something” to inform a teacher or other staff member immediately if they witness suspicious behavior.
With the knowledge that they can prevent an emergency situation, one student’s tip about what they overheard or saw can be the difference between keeping all students, teachers and staff safe and preventing tragic outcomes.
Unfortunately, recent events underscore the need for campuses to plan and prepare for emergencies. With a strong plan and the most up-to-date technologies, facility managers can ensure campuses are equipped to respond and staff and students are empowered to act when needed.
For more information about how you can help improve security and safety on your school campuses, visit www.primexinc.com/education.