School Emergency Notification System
Should you have a school emergency notification system?
It is reasonable to assume that a lockdown procedure needs to be dealt with like the fire procedure. Some colleges have brought fire and lockdown together in one critical-event strategy. Essentially fire evacuation describes exactly how to get everyone out and lockdown keeps everyone in, and threats out.
The very first step in preparing a lockdown plan is to be realistic concerning the risks for the school and its pupils, and to consider the simplicity of access into the site. Whilst terrorism has prompted schools to consider a lockdown plan, some will likely perceive different threats and the likelihood of each event will no doubt differ. The threat might originate from an intruder, aggrieved parent, or an occurrence close to the school. Although risks maybe be seen as higher in inner-city areas, incidents also develop in rural areas.
The fire alarm should already be recognised by all, but the lockdown signal must be different. Several schools and academies utilise a two-stage lockdown procedure: 1) realize an awareness alert has been sounded, however carry on. 2) Full lockdown, which usually involves locking class doors and windows as well as closing blinds. The first might suggest a risk near the school, the second a risk on the site perhaps. A dedicated school emergency notification system would help in this regard.
Many Google for guidance about school lockdowns, and often read info from America which regularly refers to an ‘Active Shooter’ on site (an event much more prominent in the States). However, in the UK, whilst weapons can never ever be ruled out, (e.g. The Dunblane Incident) a bladed-weapons attack is perhaps more likely.
It would be better to Google UK only sites and read UK government or police guidelines.
The ideal for a school would be to aim for a single point of entry and observe any other entryways. At least two circumstances need to be thought about: when an event happens during the normal working day, or as students leave or arrive.
Surely it is far more crucial that schools stop ‘dangerous’ individuals getting in the building from public access points. Probably using secured gates and also access control systems and intercoms. There should be a clear visitor entry door, where visitors are received at a manned reception desk, prior to being allowed through an access-controlled door into the school itself. They should then be accompanied by the individual they have come to see. This would ensure that there are 3 chances to assess the site visitor’s behaviour.
A lot of sites are safe and secure, at least throughout the working day, yet it is frequently human error that lets the system down: leaving delivery or fire-doors open, or not checking credentials before opening doors. Doors that are open at lesson-change times should have staff observing, they should be plainly visible (as a deterrent) and be alert to potential threats.
However should all deterrents fail then a school emergency notification system becomes necessary.
Consider the following:
- Recognise the likely threats.
- Consider the procedures / systems that could reduce or protect against easy access to the site.
- Identify any parents / guardians or children that may prove to be a threat, or threats in the nearby neighbourhood, e.g. local gangs.
- Consider exactly how an Alert system can be obviously different from the fire alarm or school bell.
- Consider a ‘2 phase’ lockdown system.
- Consider implementing a bespoke, school emergency notification system.
- Discuss how your plan can be shared or, if reasonable, rehearsed with students without heightening fears.
- Think about how to communicate all this with guardians without raising concerns