Over the past year, Rave Panic Button has been activated over 5,000 times across the country for several incidents, including non-active shooter emergencies. While we have some amazing documented stories of helping responders avert potential active assailant incidents (view a news clip about one incident here), the reality is that most incidents are far more mundane.
Every day schools have medical emergencies which require EMS response. Every day administrators and teachers communicate internally using our "Staff Assist" function when there are minor issues requiring rapid communication and coordination (my personal favorite is the parent irate over their child's report card). The fact that Rave Panic Button is used far more often for non-assailant type emergencies should not be a surprise. So then why mention it?
The truth is that we have to plan for the horrific possibility of an active shooter, and our processes and emergency technologies need to support a rapid response ). However, during the "fight or flight" moment when the unthinkable happens, your staff will be far better prepared when the solution they are to use is part of their muscle memory, and something that they are used to using in day-to-day activities.
Is Too Much Focus being given to Active Shooter Emergencies?
Active shooter emergencies rightfully claim the headlines because of their tragic outcomes, yet they are responsible for just 4% of student deaths according to a report produced by Safe Havens International. Furthermore, whereas everytownresearch.com has recorded an average of one event per week when a firearm discharges a live round of ammunition on a school campus, the National Fire Protection Authority claims that U.S. fire departments respond to an average of ten school fires per week.
The statistics put the risks into perspective says Patrick Fiel - the former Chief of Security for the Washington, D.C., school system - who claims that for every school shooting there are 10,000 (fatal and non-fatal) violent assaults in schools. Fiel includes rapes, gang-related violence, assaults with a knife and robberies among his lists of violent assaults, and suggests smart technology choices can help schools and school districts respond better to non-active shooter emergencies as well as active shooter events.
Fiel's views are mirrored by Ken Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services. Contributing to an article on school security for the National School Boards Association, Trump notes “There’s been a tunnel vision focused on active shooters. That’s taken the eye off the ball for more common, day-to-day school security issues. Not enough conversations on school safety are talking about the rape that could happen under the stairwell or the importance of supervision during class changes.”
The Grey Area between Non-Active Shooter Emergencies and Non-Emergencies
In some cases there is a grey area between non-active shooter emergencies and non-emergencies. Some medical emergencies can be resolved by the swift intervention of a school medical team; small fires can be extinguished using school fire-fighting equipment; and potentially violent events - such as an agitated or disruptive parent - can be dealt with by School Resource Officers (SROs) without the need to call 9-1-1. But how do you know what course of action is correct at the time and in the circumstances?
According to our Senior Director of Design - Rand Refrigeri - when people are unexpectedly faced with a potential emergency, only 10% or people react immediately, 80% don't know how to respond, and 10% shut down completely (you can read Rand's blog here). Rand believes the design of Rave Panic Button helps improve the percentage of people capable of reacting immediately, but also feels schools should prepare for the most common situations in which a user would use the application.
The Rave Panic Button Being Activated
This is why we strongly recommend administrators and teachers communicate internally using our "Staff Assist" function when there are minor issues requiring rapid communication and coordination. By becoming more familiar with the Rave Panic Button app and using it in real-time scenarios, users will be better prepared to react to both active shooter emergencies and the grey areas in which there may be doubts about whether the assistance of 9-1-1 is required.
The lessons learned from the thousands of Rave Panic Button activations this year would certainly confirm our believe that the more the app is used in the daily workflow of your school's users, the more likely it will be used when it is most needed.