America’s Safe Schools Week is October 17-23. To honor America’s Safe Schools Week all month, Raptor Technologies® is sharing some of the best practices we have compiled from our 32,000 K-12 clients and nearly 20 years of experience as a school safety partner. This series of 4 articles highlights drills, emergency response, parent-student reunification, and more.
Although it is virtually impossible to predict an emergency, there are many things schools can do to prepare themselves for any type of crisis, like consistently practicing drills and ensuring your emergency operations plan (EOP) is always updated. If you find yourself in an actual crisis, the best practices below can help you expedite awareness, respond to the situation, and ultimately save lives.
Expedite Emergency Awareness & Comply with Alyssa’s Law
In an emergency—when a delayed reaction could be the difference between life and death—it is critical that your school community and first responders are quickly made aware of the situation. To address response time, Alyssa’s Law requires every Florida public and charter school to have a mobile panic alert system by next school year that directly links to law enforcement and first responder agencies.
The panic alert system should enable all teachers and staff to quickly summon help and send detailed, situation-specific alerts to a custom list of recipients—including the school community, district administrators, and multiple first responder agencies—from wherever they are on campus. Being able to quickly connect to 9-1-1 through the panic alert system and share your location on an interactive map are also imperative to expedite awareness.
Provide Accurate Information to Responders
There are many components to emergency response. Expediting awareness by alerting others that there is a crisis is only the first step. It is just as critical that teachers, staff, incident commanders, and first responders can communicate during the crisis and access important emergency documents. The most powerful panic alert systems allow users to chat through group messaging channels, as well as access your EOP. Further, as the foundation of your response, it is critical that your system is customized to your emergency response protocols to stay in compliance with your specific policies and procedures.
It is also key that first responders can immediately access detailed school maps. These maps ideally combine floor plans, high-resolution imagery, and a gridded overlay together into one map so first responders can better respond to emergencies in unfamiliar locations. Having detailed maps like these will reduce response time and ultimately save lives.
Account for Everyone on Campus
Best practice is to empower teachers and staff to account for themselves as well as everyone else on campus—including students, visitors, guardians, and contractors—immediately after the panic alert is initiated. It’s important that teachers and staff can account for anyone, not necessarily just the students on their rosters.
If an emergency begins during an assembly when students and visitors are dispersed throughout the auditorium, it is critical that teachers and staff have an accountability solution—ideally one that is integrated with the panic alert system—that enables them to quickly see their class rosters, search for others by name, and share their statuses with first responders and incident commanders. The best solutions allow first responders to see details for those who are marked injured, including their location, status, medical conditions and allergies, and if they are students, their guardian contact information.
As you consider solutions for emergency response and Alyssa’s Law compliance, consider these best practices and the importance of having a system that can fully help you protect your schools. Keep a look out for next week’s newsletter for best practices for reunifying students with authorized guardians.