How a School Panic Button App System Can Be Lifesaving in an Emergency and Why All Schools Should Have One
Published on February 8, 2018
A school panic button app system is a tool designed to improve the outcome of an emergency by enabling a faster response and more effective communication between school faculty and staff and 9-1-1 first responders.
The amount of time it takes for help to arrive during a medical emergency can mean the difference between life and death. Take a medical emergency such as a heart attack, for example, every 15 minutes that pass without the initiation of CPR there is a 10% decrease in survival.
(Related Article: Panic Button System for Schools Saves Lives During Emergencies)
Beyond the case of a life-threatening medical incident, there are a variety of emergency and nonemergency situations in which a school panic button system can improve communication and response. Here’s a list of the top use cases where a school panic button system can make a powerful difference:
MEDICAL: App-enabled panic button systems can be lifesaving during a critical medical emergency that requires immediate assistance such as a heart attack, lethal allergy, seizure or critical injury. By leveraging a school panic button app in such dire situations, a staff witness can simultaneously notify 9-1-1 first responders as well as key administrators and onsite employees with medical experience.
One example of this is out of Benton, AR where a student-athlete collapsed on the baseball field due to a heart attack. The head athletic trainer, TJ White, received a call reporting a student was down and barely breathing. Fortunately, the coach on the scene had activated the school panic button system, which alerted all medically trained onsite staff and 9-1-1 responders simultaneously. By the time White reached the field just moments after receiving the call, multiple coaches were already performing CPR on the student and first responders were arriving at the scene. Today, the student is a happy, healthy and normal teenager.
FIRE: From the time a fire is ignited, it takes just three minutes for the thick black smoke to fill the air and the building to become completely engulfed in flames. Every second in a fire emergency is critical to the safety of everyone inside and in nearby buildings. For example, if a fire erupts in the student chemical lab. or in the cafeteria, the staff member who witnesses the incident can leverage a school panic button system to accelerate the evacuation process and reduce the time it takes for local firefighters to reach the scene.
CRITICAL REPORT: General 9-1-1 calls can be placed through a school panic button system in situations where a staff member needs to report a missing student, violence against teachers or other students, potential weapons on campus, or if a student brings to school illegal substances such as drugs or alcohol to school.
Just recently an elementary student in Albuquerque, NM mistakenly brought pot-infused gummy bears to school and shared them with her classmates. Some of the students reportedly got sick while others showed signs of the “giggles”. With a panic button system at their disposal, schoolteachers who find themselves in this situation can act quickly by getting the students the medical attention needed, and reduce the likelihood of rumors through fast, accurate communication.
ACTIVE SHOOTER: Unfortunately, active shooter incidents are far too common in today’s world. During an active shooter emergency, only between 30-50% of the time do police officers arrive while the shooting is still active. By reducing the time it takes to report a violent attack to other onsite staff members and first responders, the attacker naturally has a smaller window to kill and inflict injury. The sooner communication is established onsite the faster lockdown procedures can be moved into action. The use of a panic button system during an active shooting creates a critical communication bridge between the initial reporter, other onsite staff, and first responders. While on the phone with 9-1-1 through the panic button app, the reporter can provide situational awareness about the facility and nature of the shooting to police.
NON-EMERGENCY: Effective communication even during non-emergency situations is important. A non-emergency incident, such as a minor injury during recess that requires aid administered by the school nurse, does not require an immediate response from 9-1-1 and first responders.
The industry standard panic button app system being used in 2,000 K-12 schools across the U.S. is called Rave Panic Button. Every day the Rave Panic Button app system is used to protect students and staff members as well as improve the school administration’s strategy for managing emergency and nonemergency situations effectively. Below are features of a school panic button app system that should be considered when selecting the right system for your community:
HEIGHTENED SITUATIONAL AWARENESS: The system should give you increased control, management, and visibility into any emergency that occurs in your school facility the moment it happens.
For instance, Rave Panic Button has an incident control and response dashboard that enables superintendents and administrators to log in remotely or within the school whenever they receive a Panic activation message. The key benefit to accessing this dashboard is the ability to monitor the emergency situation and help coordinate school resources, even from afar.
Another use case for the incident control and response dashboard is the ability for an authorized user to message out instructions to their staff, whether proactively or in response to an incident. For example, a school principal can log into the dashboard and send a message to all staff instructing them to hold their students back when the lunch bell rings due to a medical emergency ongoing in a hallway. Another possible scenario is if a School Resource Officer needs to send a mass notification instructing onsite staff to implement the lock-down procedure in the event of an intruder on campus (even if the panic button app system was never activated).
INSTANT NOTIFICATION: During a critical panic button activation (e.g. reports of an active shooter or fire) 9-1-1 responders and all on-site staff should be able to receive an instant notification with key details about the emergency type and location. And when social media instantly makes any school incident or emergency public knowledge, you need fast, accurate information to combat rumors and suppositions.
INTERNAL COMMUNICATION: The app-enabled system should empower your staff members to manage nonemergency situations effectively by internally communicating an incident quickly and to only the necessary people
ENHANCED COORDINATION AND RESPONSE: A great feature to look for in a school panic button app is its ability to integrate with an emergency response-enhancing system designed for your local 9-1-1 centers. Some tools provide seamless integration that allows critical facility data and information to be delivered to first responders during an emergency – such as detailed caller location, floor plans, emergency exit and entry points, and key emergency contacts.
LOCATION-BASED ALERTING: Through your school panic button app system, you should be able to identify and label the boundaries of all the school buildings and outdoor spaces to ensure accurate location data is delivered to 9-1-1 during an emergency.