Concerns over school safety are being raised in communities across the country. Parents, school staff, local leaders and more have options of what they think the correct answer is to proactively protecting students.
Countless solutions are available, making it a challenging for school administrators to know which will provide the most value for their school. Not all school safety solutions are created equally, adding to this already complex decision. In order to help you evaluate the school safety solutions market, we recommend cross-referencing each solution and asking these four key questions.
Questions to Ask When Evaluating School Safety Solutions
1. How does it integrate with 9-1-1?
During an emergency, 9-1-1 should be the center of command. It is important to bridge together communication efforts. Integrating with 9-1-1 can bridge information gaps and help coordinate the response efforts.
A complete integration with 9-1-1 ensures the call takers can act as incident command and have the relevant key data and communication tools to respond.
Information that should be shared with 9-1-1 includes: emergency type, location, key contact information, facility layout, and emergency response plans. Having a complete view of an emergency enables 9-1-1 to take critical steps towards responding and resolving an incident.
Integrating with 9-1-1 is also crucial for situational awareness and faster dispatch for first responders. Certain mobile panic button systems allow messages to be sent from 9-1-1 to on-site contacts for updates as the incident unfolds.
An integration with 9-1-1 also helps avoid self-dispatching troubles. Self-dispatch is when any person shows up to an active scene without being sent by 9-1-1. Panic button solutions without integration notifies emergency responders, but does not alert 9-1-1. This is hazardous because it hinders communication and leads to confusion and disjointed response efforts.
2. Can it be used for every emergency?
A wide range of incidents can happen in a school, such as natural disasters, gas leaks, and bullying.
Medical issues are common and happen everyday in schools, from broken bones to gym class to an allergic reaction at lunch. It is important to pick a solution that can be used for daily incidents. The more frequently schools can use their safety tools, the greater return on their investment.
9-1-1 not only needs to know that there is an incident, but what is happening. The more information they have, the stronger the response. A mobile panic button app should allow the essential information 9-1-1 needs to be communicated easily and efficiently.
3. Does it allow for communication with on-site staff?
What makes or breaks an emergency response? Many times, the answers have a common theme - communication.
Communication is crucial during an emergency. On-site staff need to know about the incident at hand and not be left in the dark if there are updates. They need to be informed about procedures to be taken, a new location to lead students, and when the incident is over.
On-site staff communication can also help with emergency preparation. For example, during a fire drill, staff can receive updates about next steps and what to do when a drill has ended.
Panic button apps should allow for internal communication around the clock. Staff can be notified during emergency scenarios, weather closures, and more. Individual teachers can also be contacted if there is an issue that only concerns specific staff.
4. Has its effectiveness been proven?
Despite the overwhelming amount of solutions available, very few have the proof to back up claims. Many modern school safety solutions have yet to be widely tested and used in actual emergencies.
School emergencies have fueled millions in spending in an effort to better protect students. Because of this, businesses are trying to break into the industry with new and untested solutions, including $4,000 doors with cameras and specialized backpacks. When The Washington Post conducted a survey of schools that had experienced school shootings, no one cited bulletproof blackboards, metal detectors, or any other newer or untested solutions as capable of preventing the violence at their schools.
Before investing, research what has been used at other schools. Follow references and case studies instead of sales pitches from self appointed experts. The decision on how to invest in safety can be complex. To quickly react to any emergency, schools need a comprehensive plan for safety that has been proven.
Does Your Plan For School Safety Hit the Mark?
A truly robust plan includes a solution that accounts for the many moving pieces that come into play during an emergency response. Yet not all products on the market can effectively help schools communicate, collaborate and prepare for all emergencies.
The more you know about your own school safety needs, the better positioned you will be to choose the safety solution that’s right for your school. Download this kit to get a comprehensive understanding of your needs, and find out what solution is the best fit for your school before, during, and after an emergency.
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