Clear communication is critical for expedited, successful school emergency response. There have unfortunately been numerous incidents where response was jeopardized due to misinformation or lack of communication between the school and first responders.
Below are seven tips schools should consider to ensure everyone—teachers, staff, students, first responders, and law enforcement agencies—has the information they need to quickly and intelligently respond to any emergency.
1. Use One Integrated System
There isn’t time to log in and out of different systems. One system that sends alerts and allows communication across your entire school and district will help quickly reach everyone and give them the information they need to act.
2. Send Alerts to Multiple Devices and in Multiple Formats
Alerts should ideally be sent across text message, email, voice call, and push notification and should provide the type, location, and time of the incident and who initiated the emergency.
3. Know Everyone’s Status and Location
It’s important to account for everyone—students, staff, visitors, guardians, and contractors—on campus and have accurate details on their locations and statuses as they change throughout the emergency. For staff and students, first responders should also have quick access to their medical conditions, allergies, and emergency contact information.
“The best parts about Raptor Emergency Management are that we have our emergency operations plans and maps in the palms of our hands, and we can take attendance and have that accountability.”
– Marti Neahring, Director of Student Services, West Aurora School District 129 (IL)
4. Give First Responders Clear Building Maps
First responders need simple, yet detailed, school maps to know how to navigate the hallways. When your school map is accessible on any web-enabled device, this can reduce response time and ultimately save lives, as first responders won’t have to stop and ask for directions. Instead, they can just go exactly where they are needed.
5. Stay Updated With Regular Communication
Enable everyone to stay in touch through real-time two-way messaging across all devices, including: smartphones, tablets, Chromebooks, laptops, and desktop computers. The most powerful school panic alert systems allow users to communicate through group messaging channels while also accessing your protocols and maps in one application.
“One of the things that we found in previous incidents is that our principals had to contact multiple people and departments to communicate what is happening. These multiple phone calls can lend itself to miscommunication or even lack of communication. With Raptor Alert, we have the group chat feature so the principal can easily keep everyone updated.”
– Lisa Moya, Assistant Superintendent, Bay City Independent School District (TX)
6. Have Access to Data in Real Time
As you are responding to and recovering from the emergency, intuitive dashboards should be updating in real-time so first responders, appropriate school/district staff, and incident commanders can see exactly what is happening from wherever they are located. This level of transparency allows emergency personnel to deploy resources where they’re needed most.
7. Ensure Everyone Is Following Your Protocols
Part of school emergency preparedness is customizing your panic alert system to your emergency response protocols to ensure that teachers, staff, and first responders stay in compliance with your policies and are speaking the same language during the emergency.
Have Clear Communication Across Every Person and Every Device
A mobile panic alert system, Raptor® Alert expedites awareness and response to localized incidents and school- or district-wide emergencies and complies with Alyssa’s Law.
Raptor Alert allows any authorized user to initiate an incident, connect with 9-1-1 directly from the app, share their location, communicate via real-time group messaging, and share critical documents and maps with first responders. Users can also initiate incidents on their desktop or tablet. Raptor Alert is a component of Raptor Emergency Management, an integrated software system that allows schools to maintain real-time visibility during drills, active incidents, and reunification events.
“You can’t put a value on the life of even one student or one staff member. Raptor gives us the peace of mind that we’re in a safe environment. By having Raptor…our students, staff, and community know that our district is bringing in the highest safeguards and best businesses and solutions that really value human life and safety.”
– James Ricotta, Jr., Assistant Superintendent, Toms River Regional School District (NJ)