A crisis situation on school grounds can come in many forms. From devastating campus gun violence to carbon monoxide leaks that can leave students and staff ill, the outcome of any crisis situation depends largely on how prepared the school is beforehand.
Implementing the latest technology solutions, such as classroom audio enhancement, emergency alerts, hearing impaired notifications and wireless clocks into schools nationwide not only provides students and staff with a sense of security, but it can also save lives and minimize the devastation that can result in the wake of a crisis situation.
Working with Queen of Angels Catholic School in Roswell, Georgia, prior to the 2015 school year, South Western Communications, a Indiana-based provider of integrated communications solutions for healthcare, educational and commercial clients, installed two new technology solutions: a crisis lockdown alert status system and a communications console, that have enhanced the school’s safety and communications.
The crisis lockdown alert status system gives an overview of the school floor plan with a graphical map used to communicate with first responders and emergency personnel to improve response times. The system allows teachers to provide first responders with live updates concerning what’s happening in their classrooms, which then displays on the real-time graphical floor plan map.
In the event of an urgent situation, teachers can change the status of the classroom from green for “okay” to red for a more serious issue on a computer screen. That information is instantly accessible to resource officers, school administration and anyone else who should be alerted. If faced with an emergency, the system will initiate a lockdown, activate a pre-recorded message over the PA system and alert first responders, all simultaneously triggered with a single button push.
The Queen of Angels Catholic School principal Molly Carlin said the school has a 99-percent check-in rate everyday with the system in order to practice and ensure it’s up and running.
The communications console can be utilized for multiple bell schedules, live announcements, emergency tones and pre-recorded instructional messages to direct students and staff in the event of an emergency. It also has the ability to integrate with all communications and access control systems. Having Principal Carlin’s voice initiate a lockdown has been very effective during drills at Queen of Angels Catholic School because a calming, familiar voice keeps students at ease and no longer triggers unwarranted chaos or panic.
Utilizing the communications console, the push of a silent panic button now integrates to ensure all doors, including pre-existing fireproof doors, now lock automatically in the event of a school lockdown measure.
The school’s new security measures include a door access control system, which requires school personnel to verify visitors before unlocking outside doors for entry. In the event that front office personnel is unable to unlock the door, the call would escalate to two further offices where the staff is able to utilize the access control cameras to visually see the visitor as well as speak with them via the secured entry speaker prior to unlocking the door.
Additional Technology To Protect Your School
The communications console and crisis lockdown alert status system are only two technology solutions that can help schools prepare for a crisis. There are many additional integrations that would make for a fully scaled school safety solution.
- Security cameras located at all entrances can quickly identify when a visitor is at an entryway and anywhere else on campus.Cameras can integrate with emergency systems to be visible from the alert status system graphical map to zoom into a specific location upon notification of an emergency.
- Notification lights in the gymnasium and hallwayscan be used as a visual display in the event of weather or other emergency situations, allowing for hearing impaired notifications.
- Incorporating digital signage allows schools to visually display emergency evacuation procedures on TV screens throughout classrooms and the school.
- Having microphones in every classroom can distribute teachers’ voices throughout the classroom. This is proven to assist in student learning and performance as well as reduce classroom disturbances.
- To keep everyone on the same schedule, wireless clocks throughout the school ensure bell scheduling and protocols are synchronized.
- Panic-call buttons in classrooms and throughout the school is an easy way to have contact with administrators in the event of an emergency or all-clear, check-in situation, where a touchscreen control panel can be used to control all integrated communication and security systems, allowing for a single location to initiate protocols across multiple systems including remote capabilities with iPhone and Android apps.