It’s my job to make sure that the schools in the Tipton County area are ready for any emergencies that might come up. To do that, there are three main things I focus on. The first and best tool to fortify a school and ensure the children’s safety is awareness from faculty, staff and students, so that they know what to do if a crisis ever happens. We want everyone involved to know the procedure and follow it to the letter. The second best tool is prevention—which can be as simple as locking doors, or as complicated as a site audit to figure out safety lapses. Finally, the last, crucial step is having the right hardware and software to make sure your school’s safety program is as good as it can be.
That’s why when the Tipton County School District was given the chance to pilot Emergency Management software, I jumped at the chance. Our motto is “Safety is the foundation for any learning environment”, so getting to try out a new way to build up our schools’ safety infrastructure was a no-brainer. Once I learned about all the features the software has to help us keep our students safe, and allow us to partner even closer with first responders, it was a pretty simple decision to make.
Saving Time with Technology
The Interactive Maps and Floorplans give first responders immediate knowledge of every nook and cranny so they can easily and quickly navigate each school, no matter what level of familiarity they have with the building. This is also crucial when it comes to school resource officers. We have 14 schools in our district, but only four resource officers are available right now. So, even though we’re currently trying to expand our pool of resource officers, often times they need to rotate from school to school depending on where they’re most needed. Having an easy, quick way for officers who are either new or unfamiliar with a particular building to see where they need to be is crucial in emergencies—and they can review them beforehand to stay prepared and aware.
By having procedures accessible anytime and anywhere and from any mobile device, every staff member has the step-by-step emergency procedures at their fingertips. This is really a great thing to have because, as anyone who’s ever been involved in a crisis situation knows, time is of the essence in an emergency event. Another key feature that we’ve been finding really useful is the drill logs. Before, we had to get them recorded individually at the school level, but now we can access them electronically in a central location. Not only does this help us make sure that we’re doing our routine drills, it makes them available for anyone to see from their desktop—so we can show the public that we’re doing more than we need to do to keep the students safe.
Who, Where, When
One of the most important steps in our procedure is that teachers need to be able to know if any students are missing. Enter the Student Accountability / Respond app, which allows us to access our class schedules and rosters. This means that in the case of an emergency, teachers and staff immediately know who’s present and who’s not around. This helps administration and first responders pare down who they’re looking for, and identify their last known location.
Even better, it can be accessed from anywhere on or off campus, as well as on mobile. This saves vital time in an emergency situation. We don’t have to worry about collecting all of that information from individual teachers and can save precious minutes during an emergency. It’s really an incredible feature. Hopefully we never have to use it, but if we ever did have a live emergency event, we’d really be relying on it to help first responders navigate the situation.