Integrated Safe Response: Improving School Safety Through Situational Awareness
Integrated Safe Response: Improving School Safety Through Situational Awareness Due to the forever-changing nature of society and the implications of the recent pandemic on mental health and student behavior, some aspects of school violence have risen. This has made the issue of campus public safety as crucial as ever.
The most recent Report on Indicators of School Crime and Safety reveals that from 2020-2021, there were 93 school shootings with casualties at public and private primary and secondary schools.
Rather than approach this unfortunate truth with fear and panic, though, there’s just one question we should be asking ourselves: How can we make schools safer? With streamlined and efficient Incident Command & Control (ICC), we have the power to elevate school safety. Let’s look at some standard lockdown procedures for schools to shed light on how we can keep our students and teachers safe.
School lockdown procedures vary depending on the specific school and location. However, in the event of a threat, the typical responses are:
Alerting the school: When imminent danger is present, an alarm or announcement will be broadcasted to notify everyone a campus lockdown is in effect. Locking the doors: In the aforementioned announcement, teachers and students will be instructed to lock classroom windows and doors and to turn off the lights. Finding a place to hide: Students will also be instructed to hide in closets, bathrooms, under desks, or any other areas in the classroom where they can’t be seen. Staying quiet: Students will be encouraged to remain quiet and turn all mobile devices to silent, eliminating the potential to alert the threat. Connecting with law enforcement: Teachers or school administrators will communicate with law enforcement and give updates on the situation, such as the status of the lockdown or the location of the threat. Waiting for police: Teachers and students are typically instructed to wait for law enforcement to arrive to provide further instruction regarding next steps.
While it’s essential to always have an emergency plan in place, without the proper platform integration, many roadblocks could disrupt or slow down a lockdown procedure. Let’s look at what an Integrated Safe Response solution is and how the approach can help eliminate or de-escalate those potential safety concerns.
What Is Integrated Safe Response? Integrated Safe Response entails a fully integrated communication plan made possible by implementing Incident Command & Control (ICC). It’s an optimal solution for agencies facing organized and unexpected events - when communication and coordination are of the utmost importance.
From high school football games to hurricanes to active shooter situations, access to real-time situational data, up-to-date operational plans, and efficient communication across all agencies, entities, and organizations are all paramount to safety.
Integrated Safe Response includes critical components, such as:
Ability to predefine or edit on-the-fly TAC plans for emergencies
Real-time data, video access, and communication
Direct access to official school lockdown procedures that includes school/building floor plans complete with internal videos and pictures
With the right Incident Command and Control software and support, agencies can better implement and quickly alter tactical plans and communicate with multiple touchpoints without needing external dispatch.
How Does ICC Support Integrated Safe Response? In today’s world, securing our schools is top of mind for agencies and academic institutions alike. Incident Command and Control is a tool that connects dispatch and mobile devices, allowing users to coordinate events in real-time while in the field. ICC provides all users with a live step-by-step feed from the organizer, dispatch, and command staff, which can be viewed on mobile devices.
With the help of real-time mapping, ICC users can quickly select predefined templates or create a custom operation plan while in the field. Through surface tablets, they can instantly assign resources and communicate with one another in real time with a simple touch of the screen.
School Safety and Integrated Safe Response As an example, let’s think about, for a second, what happens when there is an active shooter situation. It’s not long before panic and chaos ensue. Naturally, teachers are trying to figure out how to keep themselves and their students safe while parents flock to the school.
Early on, cell phones are essentially worthless as the increase in communication traffic creates a cellular jam. Students are likely calling their parents, with parents calling either their children or the school. In these types of situations, getting through to the school phone line is almost impossible.
Luckily, most schools have their own police department (PD) or, at the very least, a School Resource Officer (SRO) who works with a town or city agency but is on-site with the school full-time. Suffice it to say every school has at least one designated officer and a lockdown procedure. The question is, how can we better support the officers whose job it is to protect the school?
Enter. Integrated Safe Response.
Let’s say you’ve got campus PD, city PD, and a state agency all on the scene, yet only the city agency owns the Incident Command and Control software. Not a problem.
The agency with ICC hands out their ready-to-go tablets to appointed field operators from multiple departments. An officer might opt to provide a teacher with a tablet, deeming them a student rally point leader. That way, the teacher can take a large group of students to a specific site while communicating with the responder so that she knows when it’s safe to move or stay. Law enforcement can also delegate a responder and tablet to a media center and a reunification site, all while remaining in streamlined communication with one another.
What’s one of the most significant benefits of an ICC tablet? The efficiency of communication. Field operators can communicate with one another, see the positions and status of responders, and delegate responsibilities and get everyone to safety. Say the city PD makes the call to breach north doors. They can quickly relay any such message to everyone with the ICC software. What else does Integrated Safe Response solve for?
Situational Awareness and Integrated Safe Response Setting up Integrated Safe Response practices beforehand inevitably enhances situational awareness. Part of the integration of ICC, particularly concerning school safety, involves uploading an academic institution’s emergency response documents, lockdown procedures, and floor plans that include exits, entrances, camera locations, and video footage.
Imagine the potential for what our heroes could do, having access to crucial components, such as field/parking lot cameras and real-time GPS-enabled active maps, complete with GIS layering. With Integrated Safe Response, officers can see where resources are on the map in real-time. Plus, they can access real-time weather with active maps highlighting weather impacts and hazardous chemical fallout. This is especially helpful in the event of a natural disaster or with inclement weather affecting an emergency.
Situational awareness is elevated due to the integration, automation, and real-time nature of the maps and TAC plan. In an active shooter situation, it’s unbelievably helpful for responders to access outside resources, such as other PD, the fire department, EMS, and mental health documentation.
Who Can Benefit from ICC? Police officers, first responders, firefighters, and campus security officers can all benefit from implementing Incident Command and Control. With ICC implemented, we can support our heroes in all aspects of their jobs, especially concerning situations where a Tactical Response plan is of the utmost importance.
Integrated Safe Response ties into our original question: how can we make schools safer? The answer to appraising school safety is clear. We need to better prepare our responders for all situations and events by providing the best tools for improving situational awareness to keep responders and those around them safe.
Find a Partner That Offers End-to-End Support It’s important to partner with a company that understands the ins and outs of what police officers and other responders face daily - a company built by fellow heroes who live intending to support others in making the world a safer place.
In an emergency, there’s no reason why a PD should struggle to communicate effectively or delegate roles and tasks efficiently. Teachers should always have access to sufficient instruction on how to guide their students to safety through an effective school lockdown procedure, and law enforcement should be able to view live-feed video to better equip their team to handle dangerous situations.
By implementing the right ICC platform, commanders and their teams can better serve those they’ve sworn to protect by enabling optimal situational awareness and efficient Integrated Safe Response plans. Would you like to learn more about how Integrated Safe Response can support your community?
Contact our helpful team for a demo so you can see how our technology supports our heroes in all their missions.
Originally posted on Integrated Computer Systems' website and used with permission. ICS is a proud sponsor of TACUPA.