An app-based Panic Button System for schools is proven to save lives during emergencies and prevent emergencies from occurring. Furthermore, its features can enhance the security and safety of students in many use case scenarios. This is an important consideration due to the continuing presence of weapons in schools.
In March 2017, Grant Steed – a 15-year-old student at Benton High School in Saline County, Arkansas – was walking out to center field to take part in baseball practice, when his heart stopped beating and he collapsed. Unable to detect a pulse or confirm Grant was still breathing, coaches Garrett Parker and Rusty Davis informed Athletic Trainer TJ White there was a problem. White initiated the school's Emergency Action Plan and used an app-based Panic Button System for schools to call 9-1-1.
Due to 9-1-1 dispatchers having immediate access to details of the school´s layout, they were able to relay the location of the baseball field and the quickest access route to EMS first responders. After administering CPR, Grant's heart starting beating again and he was transferred to Arkansas Children's Hospital. He has since made a near-perfect recovery and, because of the speed EMS first responders were able to locate him, Grant has not suffered any long term brain injury due to oxygen starvation.
One of the factors that contributed to the speed EMS first responders were able to administer CPR is that the panic button system for schools is app-based. This means that authorized users have access to the system from their smartphones, and do not waste time returning to a school building in order to activate a physical wall- or desk-mounted button and alert 9-1-1 to an emergency. The app also informs 9-1-1 about the nature of the emergency so the appropriate response can be dispatched without delay.
Not only is speed of the essence in medical emergencies, but it can also be critical in fires and active shooter incidents. Indeed, one of the primary advantages of an app-based panic button system for schools during an active shooter incident is that it facilitates silent communication during the incident via SMS messaging. This enhances situational awareness for incident managers and faculty staff in order to resolve the incident quickly with minimum loss of life - if any loss of life at all.
Silent Communication Prevents School Shooting
In October 2017, Marion County Public Schools and local 9-1-1 officials were able to leverage a panic button system for schools to keep all students and faculty safe from an active assailant incident. On Thursday, October 5th, shots were fired outside the Marion High School campus. An unnamed witness believed to be tied to the shooter took cover inside a nearby business and dialed 9-1-1. Marion County Emergency Management answered the distress call and knew immediately the shooting had occurred near the school’s campus and that the shooter was still at large.
Marion High School’s campus also includes the community’s Intermediate, Middle, and Junior schools, placing an extremely large number of students and staff at risk. Fortunately, emergency management officials were able to alert all schools of the active shooter incident through their silent security system, Rave Panic Button. Safety procedures were immediately implemented and the entire campus moved into lockdown mode. All students and staff that were outside at the time of the shooting were quickly moved back inside the school facility where they sheltered in place until receiving the all-clear message.
This is not the first time that Marion County has utilized their silent security system app to protect students. Just last year a student at Marion High School reported overhearing another student bragging about bringing a gun to school. The teacher immediately clicked the “Active Shooter” button in the app, instantly alerting all faculty and staff while simultaneously dialing 9-1-1. The school’s resource officer was able to respond quickly with a second officer arriving within two minutes. Within 8 minutes, the student and gun were secured and no one was hurt. The school was able to evacuate quickly and everyone on campus remained safe.
Sharing Information Quickly Facilitates Better Emergency Management
Limestone County, Alabama
In 2016, Limestone County and Athens City were two of the first school systems in the state of Alabama to adopt a Panic Button System for schools. Less than a week after the system had gone live, a 10-year old girl experienced a head trauma during a seizure and required immediate medical attention. A staff member at the school activated the Rave Panic Button app, immediately connecting with 9-1-1 while simultaneously notifying the school nurse and administrators of the incident. According to the Elkmont High School Principal Bill Tribble, the app reduced the response time by minutes and enabled doctors to provide the student with the medical care she needed as quickly as possible.
Athens-Limestone 9-1-1 Center Director, Brandon Wallace, recognizes the challenges of school safety, which is why he sought to bring a Panic Button System for schools to his community. “Many of our school campuses are large, with multiple entrances, parking lots, and athletic fields,” said Wallace, “this can make it difficult for first responders to know where to go when they arrive on the scene of an emergency.”
“Many of our school campuses are large, with multiple entrances...this can make it difficult for first responders to know where to go when they arrive on the scene of an emergency.”
Before the app, Wallace noted the difficult nature of communication between responding agencies and school officials. “Before the app was implemented, emergency officials would have to make individual calls to school administrators, campus safety officers, the superintendent, and many others during an incident. We would then have to repeat this process every time there was new information to ensure all stakeholders were updated - it was extremely inefficient.” Now disseminating information is much easier, with updates reaching all stakeholders simultaneously, something Wallace describes as “invaluable”.
SNOPAC 9-1-1 Reinvents Panic Button to Locate Missing Child
Snohomish County, Washington
Concerned about the increasing violence in schools around the country, SNOPAC 9-1-1 Emergency Communication sought to implement a Panic Button System for schools to increase the speed of notifications and emergency response, and most importantly, keep their students safe. After selecting the Rave Panic Button app, SNOPAC 9-1-1 "accidentally" discovered a use for the app that even the application developers from Rave Mobile Safety hadn't initially anticipated - locating missing children.
Back in March of 2016, an employee of the Snohomish County Public Schools District used Rave Panic Button to immediately contact 9-1-1 to report a missing student. The activation of the app simultaneously notified all teachers, staff, and school resource officers and provided a description of the missing student. According to the FBI, the first three hours are critical to finding a child safe. The ability for school personnel to react rapidly and to communicate effectively with each other is absolutely critical. Shortly after the notification was delivered, the child was found safe with a family member.
By speeding up the time it takes to report a child missing and communicate their physical description, Snohomish County school officials quickly realized the power of implementing a panic button system for schools app -- especially one with features that improve missing child procedures and response protocol.
School Violence and Safety: Challenges and Solutions
Every four years, the Center for Disease Control - Division of Violence Prevention produces a Youth Violence Factsheet. While these factsheets primarily focus on general youth violence, a section of each is dedicated to violence in schools. The last two factsheets from 2012 and 2016 show a continuing threat to the security and safety of students on school premises:
|Data from CDC Youth Violence Factsheets|
|Percentage of students who:||2012||2016|
|Did not go to school because they felt unsafe||5.9%||5.6%|
|Carried a weapon on school property||5.4%||4.1%|
|Had been threatened or injured by a weapon||7.4%||6.0%|
In response to the problem of school violence, a number of states formed legislative committees tasked with identifying mechanisms to respond quicker and more effectively when an incident does occur. Key themes from these groups’ work revolve around:
1. Better communication with public safety
2. Ability to identify a threat
3. Call for help as quickly as possible
According to the Rand Corporation’s 2016 report, school safety experts stressed that staff members needed easier and faster access to information, possibly through all-in-one software applications, in order to prevent, reduce, and respond to the entire spectrum of school violence. The Panic Button System for schools used during the emergency situations in Saline County, Marion County, Snohomish County, and Limestone County is designed to support this level of rapid communication while providing more information to school staff and first responders. The result of this design is a proven solution that protects school communities in the face of violence and other emergency situations.
Rave Mobile Safety CEO Todd Piett argues that safety protocol and emergency technology needs to support rapid response and plan for the horrific possibility of active assailant incidents, but it also needs to support effective and rapid communication for non-assailant type emergencies such as medical emergencies.
School violence can manifest in many different forms. Public safety officials and school administrators need to come together to leverage solutions that work to protect students against school violence - this partnership is non-negotiable. While safety procedures will be unique to each individual school campus and their needs, access to open communication and rapid emergency response should be a common priority.
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