Safety is a shared responsibility, so not only do you not have to ‘go it alone’ but it’s not recommended. Today’s technology provides a number of resources that make school safety notifications (i.e. mass notifications ) less static and more dynamic.
Below are eight questions to ask when evaluating the safety alerting system that will protect your staff and students. Whether the emergency is on a large scale or individualized, the goal is to get the right message to the right people in the shortest amount of time.
1. Can the system be used for simultaneous emergencies or is it limited to only one at a time?
While high profile school shootings and bomb threats spurred the need for advanced alerting systems, many products on the market were designed for just that one sole incident or maybe a handful of critical events. While having this technology is important, so is having technology that accounts for emergencies such as seizures, allergic reactions, and fires. These more common incidents require a predetermined, coordinated response and your school safety alerting system should be equipped to handle all of them at once.
2. Can the system effectively dispatch emergency help if needed?
Weapons on school grounds, chemical hazards and fires are all examples of threats that cannot and should not be handled internally. Local public safety personnel should be engaged as quickly as possible in these and other life-threatening scenarios. Therefore, it’s recommended to implement a system that can differentiate between events such as bullying or vaping on campus and life safety events, plus one that knows when to automatically call for help.
3. Does the system act as a two-way device that not only allows your school to signal for help but also allows for local law enforcement to alert you of any area threats?
We often think of school safety alerting as a one-way street (i.e. there is an active intruder on-site and the authorities must be alerted) but what about dangers lurking nearby that could pose a threat? Perhaps this danger has not yet reached your school or isn’t a direct threat on campus but the authorities have reason to believe you should be alerted to it. For example, a high-speed chase happening along your bus routes as school is letting out or a suspect is on the loose nearby during recess. In those instances, a two-way device makes the most sense so that local law enforcement is able to quickly alert you.
4. Does the system allow for teachers and staff to confirm their safety and the safety of their students?
Alarms and emergencies tend to create panic. It’s difficult to manually account for everyone in a life-threatening situation. Not only that, once the crisis is over, parents want to be reunited with their children as soon as possible. Look for a school safety alerting system that goes beyond single-function technology. It should assist teachers with accounting for their students, marking themselves and their students safe and handling family reunification once it’s over.
5. Does the system allow for early detection and incident reporting by students?
Similar to school staff, students should be empowered to help by anonymously reporting perceived threats. If you want to have your ear to the ground and know what’s really going on in the school hallways and classrooms, enabling and encouraging those communications for students is key. This not only allows them to protect others but to protect themselves.
6. Are there multiple options for triggering alerts?
Obviously, a school setting is not conducive to just one or several panic buttons and, with a lot of ground to protect, you’ll want multiple ways in which to trigger emergency alerts. That means triggering alerts via desktop and laptop computers, visitor management systems, smart speakers, Internet of Things (IoT) devices and more in addition to having enough panic buttons throughout campus as necessary.
7. Does the system integrate with your existing security measures, such as visitor management, security cameras, and door locks?
With reduced response times and costs in mind, having compatible systems will make a significant impact. In researching school safety alerting systems, check for compatibility with all of your safety and security devices [LINK].
8. Does the system assist with emergency planning so that everyone knows their role during a live emergency?
As stated earlier, safety is a shared responsibility. All faculty and staff should know their specific roles during a multitude of emergency situations. Many systems offer only static maps and checklists whereas our Unified Notification Platform (UNP) helps you plan out what everyone’s responsibility should be. Less confusion equals less chaos and more action.
We know that providing a safe and secure learning environment is the top priority. We also know that safety requires more than just a warning so the above Q&A will help to strengthen your district’s school safety protocols as you decide which alerting system is right for you. For a free quote or to ask your school-specific questions about the Unified Notification Platform by Honeywell, which answers all of the above questions and more, please contact us.