Lessons Learned: How to Improve Facility Security with the Right Emergency Response System
- By Monique Merhige
- March 16, 2023
Facility security has many facets, from protecting employees, assets, students, and visitors to avoiding cybersecurity threats and safeguarding institutional data. A cohesive security program consists of having the proper safety protocols and processes in place along with implementing the latest physical security technology. Facility managers must utilize strategies and tools to better secure their buildings from theft, vandalism—and, in the worst case, active shooters.
With active shooter incidents on the rise, facility managers need to be proactive in their action plans to improve safety and can’t waste time. In 2022, there were 647 mass shootings that took place across various venues that included schools, grocery stores, malls, hospitals, bars, hotels, places of worship, stadiums, and movie theaters, showing us that nobody is immune to this type of violence in our society. Wherever we go, there is always a risk lurking over our heads and creating a sense of fear in our daily lives. In fact, there have been 38 mass shootings in the first 23 days of the new year in the U.S., showing us that this trend is sadly continuing.
Schools Need to Make the Grade when It Comes to Security
When it comes to schools, there were 51 school shootings in 2022 in the U.S. that resulted in injuries or deaths. Schools are extremely vulnerable to these types of incidents due to the number of visitors on school grounds and the challenges that come along with tracking them. What can we do in the security industry to help our society tackle this huge monster? One thing is to focus on implementing new technology that helps feed the first responders crucial information like the lockdown location, etc. to save lives. There needs to be an easy way to provide first responders situational awareness so they can respond quickly, as “Time Equals Life” in an active shooter situation.
By implementing a lockdown & emergency response system, schools can help protect children, staff, and first responders from death and injury. Teachers today are no longer required to just provide lesson plans and teach our children; but have now taken on the role of protector and—in some cases—can act as the first responder in an incident. Teachers need to be trained on the latest lockdown and emergency response systems to successfully lock down their classrooms and ensure the safety of their students.
“The 3 pillars of survival during an active shooter attack are preparation, communication, and notification,” said Lt. Joseph Pangaro, President at True Security Design. “Having situational awareness quickly is the only way to save lives.” It’s crucial for teachers to get the help they need in the classroom when they need it without having to look for a cell phone. By preparing in advance, schools can make the grade when it comes to security by preparing their staff and giving them comfort knowing that they have the power to communicate and notify the right people with a simple bush of a button.
Knowledge is Power…
A common issue plaguing the security industry is how to disseminate information to first responders and law enforcement during an emergency. “Being able to communicate accurate and real-time information is crucial in any active shooter situation,” said David Antar, President at IPVideo Corporation. “Schools have been searching for a solution to this issue for years, and we knew that we could provide the missing piece to the lockdown puzzle.” IPVideo Corporation has a mission of helping society and tackling this scourge with the introduction of SENTRY ERS, a lockdown and emergency response system that provides bi-directional information during an emergency. Now, first responders can have their eyes and ears on the lockdown area and understand clearly the scene on hand. With the simple push of a lockdown button, the entire school lockdown protocol is activated, which includes doors locking, PA announcements, strobe lights activated throughout facility, audible lockdown messages, location beacons activated, and police dispatch notified. Push notifications can be sent to security, administrators, the community, etc., with live audio and video communications automatically established with first responders to assess and address the critical situation within seconds.
Schools now have a simple, easy, and fast lockdown system at their fingertips. The benefits of this new solution include faster responses to critical threats, better informed/prepared first responders and teachers, better emergency preparedness, and complete respect for privacy. By integrating video, voice, text, and GPS location data from classrooms and other areas where traditional video cameras cannot be deployed, schools can now rest easy knowing that all areas are being monitored. Teachers can have their privacy protected and still have the security they need in the classroom. “We are receiving great feedback from teachers throughout the country who are in desperate need of new technology to help them lock down their classrooms quickly and get the help they need when they need it,” said Antar.
As we move forward, we will see facility security become an even bigger priority. Schools will need to keep improving their security measures to ensure a safe and healthy environment for students and staff. Covering the three pillars of survival will be the most important factors in saving lives. With new technology being introduced to the marketplace, schools will have the right tools to combat violence by effectively preparing, communicating, and notifying the right people within seconds of any situation. You never know when an emergency situation will arise; having all the pieces in place can help minimize the impact the event will have on the community and create a safer world for all.
This article originally appeared in the March / April 2023 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.