When it comes to protecting our campuses’ people, property, and convenience ignorance is not bliss, it is dangerous, however, people hear about bad incidents, that range from floods to mass shootings, and think, “That can’t happen here,” but that is merely a false comfort. Bad things can happen and will happen if the right approach is not taken to prevent them. Although we all have expectations of how our day is going to go life often tends to throw a wrench in things. For instance, we all expect that when we send our children to school they will get there, have a productive day of learning, and return home safely, but with the overwhelming responsibilities and activities that happen on campuses many things can often get in the way of that. In a recent webinar with Campus Safety, Amy Jeffs and I took a look into some of the different situations that can happen during a day at school and how we can better manage them.
6:30 AM: The door to the walk-in freezer in the cafeteria was accidently left open on Friday afternoon. Unfortunately all of the cafeteria lunches for this week have to be thrown away because the food has spoiled.
7:00 AM: The bus broke down and students had to stand in the cold for almost an hour waiting until the school sent a replacement bus.
8:30 AM: The students are now thirty minutes late to school because of the bus issues; they hurry to homeroom without noticing that the door did not fully close behind them.
8:45 AM: An irate parent waltzes right through the now open front door and heads straight to the principal’s office to discuss the mishandling of the buses that morning.
9:30 AM: While switching classes students notice that the floors of the math wing are soaking wet; a toilet overflowed in the girl’s bathroom. Students are now attempting to maneuver their way around the water as best they can, with a few falling and getting injured in the process.
11:00 AM: Lunchtime. Students start filing into the cafeteria looking for their friends and a table to sit at, while toting their brown bags. One student is eating her favorite sandwich, peanut butter and jelly. She doesn’t think twice before handing a friend her water bottle for a sip, not knowing that she has a peanut allergy.
11:45 AM: It’s time for the best part of the day, recess. A few kids are racing across the monkey bars and one falls off and hits her head.
12:30 PM: During class a student pulls out his phone, when the teacher asks him to put it away the student refuses. The teacher threatens to send the student to the principal’s office and the student walks out of the classroom. The angry student is now walking through the hallways by himself.
2:30 PM: It’s “lab day” in the science wing, the fifth graders are doing an experiment and someone runs into a desk and knocks over a Bunsen burner. The fire alarm loudly notifies everyone to leave the building. Students, teachers and staff start pouring out of all sides of the school.
3:00 PM: The school day is over; parents and buses start arriving to pick up the kids, who are still standing outside. Panicked parents start exiting their cars to approach the school to figure out what is going on.
This may sound like a nightmare but these are real life situations that happen on campuses every day. So how can we best prevent and handle these problems? We can encourage situational awareness and mitigate risk through incorporating centralized monitoring technology into our safety plans on campus. With SARA, the Situational Awareness and Response Assistant, any campus can improve communication, workflow and service through automated alerting - especially in the event of an emergency. For example, if there had been a sensor in the school freezer that monitored the door an alert could have been sent out to the right people who could have closed the door, thus saving the week’s worth of food and the school’s money. SARA’s technology could also have been implemented in the situation in which a student with a peanut allergy who was accidentally exposed to peanut butter. If the faculty was equipped with on person mobile duress buttons they could have quickly alerted the correct people, whether they were the person responsible for the student’s epipen or medics, who could properly manage the situation. In incidents like this our use of time can be a matter of life and death, and the quicker that faculty can execute their safety plans and protocol the more likely they will be successful.