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Calling for help in an emergency

True Security Design - Preventing violence in our schools

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How can schools stop the confusion amongst staff about who calls a lock down or calls the police?

Many school districts I work with have difficulty with this exact process and its dangerous. When we come in and conduct a Threat Assessment (TVRA) of a school district, we look for many things, among the most important is the ability to recognize a dangerous situation, lock the school down and call for help quickly. Time=Life.

What we find is that there may actually be a policy in place at the school that says everyone is empowered to call a lock down if they see danger, but the staff are not aware of it, they forgot, or they were not informed and almost always, they don’t practice it. This is very common.

The reason this happens depends on the leadership at the school or in the district. Many school leaders maintain the control over this process by only allowing one or two people to call a lock down. The concern being that if they didn’t limit who can call a lock down, there might be multiple false lock downs. This is possible, but with the proper training of your staff you can almost eliminate all false lock downs. We can accomplish this by doing a few things:

1- Establish a district wide policy empowering all staff, administrators, teachers, clerical, custodial, buildings and grounds, bus operators, lunch personnel and aides, to call a lock down if they see danger approaching the school or in the school.

2- Make sure that policy is clearly relayed to the staff and do it often. Post it on classroom walls, in emergency operations plans, at faculty meetings and anywhere else to get the message out-we are all on the security team!

3- Practice having different staff members call a lock down during a drill. Go to a random classroom and ask the teacher or staff member to put the building in lock down.

When we include the staff in the training and empower them to take part in their own safety, they will respond properly.

The next thing to tackle after getting the school locked down quickly is the ability to call for help. Remember the 3 pillars of survival in a violent event; preparation, communication, and notification.

With these 3 pillars of survival in mind we can look at how we can alert each other in our building and the outside world that we have a violent event taking place and need to respond quickly.

One way to accomplish this vital need is to get an Electronic Notification System. This can come in many forms:

1- A software product installed on all school computers, iPads, Chromebooks, laptops or other web-enabled devices including cell phones. This allows all staff to very quickly create an alert and send it out to everyone including the police as soon as danger is recognized.

2- A wall mounted emergency button linked to a system that sends out an alert when pushed. There are several systems available – you can find these with a simple internet search or send me an email and I can make some recommendations.

Whatever you choose, it should be easy to use, fast and reliable.

Email me with any questions: JPangaro@TrueSecurityDesign.com

Our web site: www.TrueSecurityDesign.com