A panic alert system – sometimes called a 'panic button' – is a critical part of an overall safety solution for K-12 schools and other educational institutions. The capability offers centralized communications and alerts, enabling teachers and administrators to request immediate help from colleagues and 911 resources quickly and easily. A panic alert system can mean the difference between life and death in situations where every second counts.
When Do You Use a Panic Alert System?
Panic alert systems improve the outcome of emergencies by enabling faster responses and better communication across internal team members and 911 responders. An emergency could be a school shooter incident, a natural disaster or extreme weather event, a health-related emergency, violence against a teacher or student requiring intervention, or other situation requiring a rapid, coordinated response.
School Shootings: The U.S. experiences school shootings more frequently than many other countries. The numbers are difficult to see even if the coronavirus pandemic – which kept schools closed for much of 2020 and into 2021 – may have interrupted the trend of school shootings over the last decade. Here are some sobering stats:
- A 2020 IES Report states that over the past decade, the number of K-12 school shootings with casualties has grown from 11 (during the 2009-10 academic year) to 75 during both the 2018-19 and 2019-20 academic years.
- According to Education Week's 2021 School Shooting Tracker, there were 34 school shootings in the U.S. resulting in death or injury in 2021, with 20 reported after August 1st.
Sudden/Extreme Weather Events: Some severe weather events are predictable, while others happen with little or no warning. We've all seen the destruction, loss of life, and significant injuries that natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes bring to communities. A panic alert system can help notify everyone to shelter in place and aid in responding to the after-effects quickly.
- According to the Society for Research in Child Development, natural disasters present a significant and growing threat to the well-being of children.
- Children's bodies are different from adults' bodies because they are smaller and still developing. The CDC states that this means that falls or flying objects can easily damage their internal organs during earthquakes, tornadoes, or other severe weather.
Medical Emergencies: Children and adults might experience a medical emergency at school due to an accident or injury, chronic health condition, or an unexpected medical event such as a seizure or heart attack.
The American Academy of Pediatrics states that with the increase in the number of children with special health care needs and chronic medical conditions attending schools, schools will need to respond to an increased number of individual student emergencies.
Integrating a Panic Alert System into Your School Safety Plan
Although serious threats in schools are rare, critical and time-sensitive information to responders and the community can mean the difference between life and death. Streamlined communication supports fast, impactful emergency responses.
The best school safety systems work with emergency plans to streamline communication, catalyze responses, and save lives. Use a panic alert system that leverages the right cloud-based technology, and make it an integrated part of your school safety plan.
Several features your panic alert system should include are:
- Accessibility and Scalability – Since an emergency is not a planned event, the panic alert system should be available on multiple platforms such as mobile phones, laptops, and desktop PCs. Make access always available regardless of location across your entire internal and external response team.
- Simplicity – With a simple 'click' of the app button, key individuals get notified of the emergency and the location where immediate help is needed.
- Directly Links to 911 – Connect instantly to 911 and sync up with the appropriate protocol and action plans.
Centralized Communications – Keep everyone on the team, from teachers and staff to external team members, in sync with the latest communication updates. The result will be faster response times and more efficient team responses. Decentralized updates can create misinformation, confusion, and errors at a critical time.
Integrated with Comprehensive Safety Solutions – A panic alert system should be an integral component of your school safety plan and system to ensure the best outcomes.
Panic alert systems expedite and streamline emergency response by instantly alerting, informing, and requesting help from staff and 911 (if appropriate) for any emergency or non-emergency issue, enabling faster responses, more effective actions, and better outcomes.