4 Key Components of Comprehensive Emergency Response for Schools
Including these 4 key components in your school safety approach can help you successfully respond to any emergency and ultimately save lives.
As the school climate continues to change and increasingly complex threats emerge, it’s critical that schools have the right processes and resources to protect their students and staff.
Over 34,000 K–12 U.S. schools trust the Raptor integrated school safety platform, which includes Raptor Emergency Management. This robust solution helps schools prepare for, respond to, and recover from any crisis and has an integrated mobile panic alert system that is compliant with Alyssa’s Law.
The key components below, based on conversations with schools and industry experts across the country, can help you prepare for emergencies and ultimately save lives.
1. Preparing for Any Situation
It’s imperative that schools—and everyone inside of them—know exactly what to do in an emergency. Training, which includes conducting drills, helps teachers, students, and staff respond and keep everyone safe in a crisis. Schools should conduct drills in an educational way, without violent simulations, to practice and test procedures, processes, and technologies as well as to build muscle memory and improve overall response. Drills should be part of your emergency operations plan (EOP) and developed in partnership with first responders, mental health professionals, and safety team members. It’s also imperative for schools to stay in compliance with state drill requirements.
Duval County Public Schools, for example, ensures emergency preparedness and drill compliance by using Raptor Drill Manager, a robust solution that makes scheduling, conducting, and reporting on drills easier. “After the [Marjory Stoneman Douglas tragedy], we had to manage fire drills, active shooter drills, and environmental safety reports for every school, every month,” said Duval County School Police Department Assistant Chief Wayne Clark. “In addition, we hold monthly behavior threat assessment team meetings at each school. We folded that process into the system as well, so that’s four mandated events per month per school managed through Raptor Drill Manager. That’s huge in helping us make sure we remain in compliance with state mandates.” Read their story here.
2. Being Equipped to Successfully Respond
The safety of your school and everyone inside of it includes having a panic button and beyond. Expediting awareness by alerting others that there is a crisis is only the first step in emergency response. With Raptor, teachers and staff can quickly summon help for localized incidents and school- or district-wide emergency situations, sending detailed alerts to a custom list of recipients which can include administrators, staff members, and first responders. Further, users can quickly connect to 9-1-1, communicate through group messaging, share their locations and emergency documents—including EOPs and detailed school maps—and account for everyone on campus during an emergency.
When a staff member alerted district administrators of a sewage gas leak in their elementary school, Bruno Dias, former Weatherford ISD’s Director of Safety and Security, knew they needed to immediately evacuate. Weatherford’s Superintendent, Jeffrey Hanks, initiated an emergency in Raptor Emergency Management. Instantly, all teachers received an alert and immediately knew to evacuate and account for themselves and their students. Weatherford evacuated nearly 370 students using the Raptor integrated solution that gave leaders and emergency personnel full visibility into the real-time status of every single student and staff member. Read their story here.
3. Streamlining Recovery and Parent-Student Reunification
Parent-student reunification requires everyone involved to know each student’s status, including their location and if they are missing or injured, as they are updated in real time. The reunification team also needs a method to quickly confirm each guardian’s ID, check for sex offender status and custodial restrictions, and capture their signature at reunification. Technology, like Raptor Emergency Management, eliminates inaccuracy, reduces liability, and ensures students are only reunified with approved guardians. It is also proven 4x faster than paper-and-pencil based reunification methods.
Seminole County—recognized as a model Florida district—leverages Raptor to streamline reunification. The district ran a full-scale reunification exercise in the spring of 2019 after implementing the system. “We were really pleased with how well everything worked and how quickly and efficiently the Raptor [system] kept everyone on top of the accountability and reunification processes, even with the obstacles we included, such as ‘media infiltration’ and role-players posing as emotional parents,” School Safety Lieutenant Kelly Martin said. “Communication through the app is immediate, and the Sheriff’s Office and other first responders appreciate how well it works.” Read their story here.
4. Maintaining a Comprehensive Approach to School Safety
The many elements of emergency management, and the increasing pressure to put the right policies and solutions in place, can quickly become overwhelming as you navigate through what emergency management looks like for your specific school or district.
As a school safety partner, Raptor Technologies provides ongoing expertise and relentless innovation to help schools across the country better protect their students, staff, and buildings from any threat. Our solutions are tailored to the unique needs of schools and are designed to be robust, value-driven, adaptable, and scalable so it can fit your needs now and for years to come. To learn more about Raptor, request a personalized demo today.
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Campus Safety magazine is another great resource for public safety, security and emergency management professionals. It covers all aspects of campus safety, including access control, video surveillance, mass notification and security staff practices. Whether you work in K-12, higher ed, a hospital or corporation, Campus Safety magazine is here to help you do your job better!