If bank tellers have panic buttons, why don’t our teachers?

There’s no greater cause than protecting our children, which is one of the main reasons I founded Status Solutions back in 2001. So of course I’m saddened by yet another shooting just this past Tuesday at a high school in Oregon. 

Access to guns, violent entertainment, mental illness. Regardless of the cause, the question is: How do we protect our children and their learning environments so we don’t have to fill more body bags as a result of violence at our nation’s schools?

We can wring our hands when these incidents occur and ask, “How did we get here?” Or we can take practical and available steps sooner rather than later to improve school safety. If every bank teller in America has a panic button, why don’t our teachers? Surely we can all agree that protecting our kids is even more important than protecting our cash. 

Implementing mobile duress, or personal panic buttons, is an important first step K-12 schools can take in achieving situational awareness. With smarter networks and devices, plus the software to tie all of them together, it’s easier and more cost-effective than ever to create a wireless, situational awareness bubble over a single school or even an entire district. 

The Stamford, Conn. School District is a shining example of how using this technology enhances safety and security. They’ve chosen to equip every staff member in their 12 elementary schools with mobile duress pendants — from teachers to cafeteria workers to custodians – to enact automatic lockdowns in the event an armed intruder is detected. 

If a pendant is activated, staff and students immediately are notified to initiate a lockdown via announcements over the public address system. Alerts also are sent simultaneously to both on- and off-site responders, and they include the approximate location of the alarm source to help better direct those responders to the unfolding situation. 

The same platform that powers mobile duress, including location data, also comes with integration tools and mass notification capabilities. With this foundation, all alarm and communication systems can be integrated for centralized alarm management and automated alerting. From an armed intruder to a student’s allergic reaction, information about an incident will reach those responsible for taking action, along with instructions to assist with and speed the response.  

With mass notification, alerts not only go to on- and off-site responders but also to parents, who often complain that communication during a crisis is lacking or non-existent. Parents can receive direct notifications via phone and email so they know what’s occurring, when to pick up their children if inclement weather strikes, or where to pick them up following an evacuation, etc.  

The idea is to harness information and use it to protect students, teachers and staff. If there’s one lesson we should all learn from this, it’s that ignorance is not bliss. And while we certainly hope no disaster of any kind befalls “our school,” we have to be prepared if it does.

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