We all know the cost of education is rising, but the price of ignorance is more expensive, and I would argue dangerous. This is especially evident in matters of campus safety and security. Whether an intruder is in a building, a tornado threatens to touch down in the area, a medical emergency presents itself, or a maintenance issue causes inconvenience or discomfort, knowledge is always power. Implementing a system for mass notification that provides the right level of detail to the right people can reduce risk, panic and confusion, and significantly increase situational awareness when potential threats arise or actual emergencies occur.
Teachers, administrators and other staff are trained to handle crisis situations, but it’s important to properly arm these professionals – not with weapons – but with information about what is actually happening as well as what to do about it. Situational awareness equips those in charge to make the best decisions in delicate circumstances, diffusing panic and restoring order as quickly and effectively as possible.
Recent school safety incidents emphasize the need for an emergency alerting and response management system that integrates disparate alarm systems so detailed alerts can be delivered to on- and off-site responders. In March, officials at the University of Central Florida were confronted with a student’s suicide and the discovery of firearms and explosives in his dorm room. In early April, school authorities in Houston, Texas, grappled with mass stabbings at the Lone Star Community College. Also in April, a Georgia elementary school was evacuated when a roll of bathroom tissue was set on fire. Each of these situations resulted in losses – compromised life safety and property and interrupted instructional time.
Responding to such incidents would be enhanced with a system that automatically sends out notifications about a threat along with the relevant information required to manage it. Of course, situations like these and other potential threats must be assessed as part of a crisis or emergency preparedness plan. Implementing situational awareness technology as part that emergency preparedness plan will ensure that the right information goes to the right people on the right devices, prompting the right actions to protect life safety, property, business operations and convenience/comfort of students and staff.