September 28, 2023

Key points:

  • One of the biggest issues surrounding school emergency plans is a reliance on disparate and disconnected technologies
  • Automated emergency response and streamlined communications are two ways to improve school emergency response plans
  • See related article: How our school handled the chaos of an active shooter hoax

As school violence has reached a 20-year high, schools and first responders are feeling more pressure to make sure they’re prepared to respond to and resolve school safety incidents as quickly and effectively as possible.

When an emergency happens at a school, every second matters during the response. But communication and visibility gaps continue to hinder school officials and first responders and their ability to respond quickly in emergencies. The ability to effectively communicate during these incidents saves lives.

Some of these gaps stem from technology-related challenges, like poor radio coverage in school buildings, a lack of real-time information about how an emergency is unfolding, and limited communication lines between schools, police and parents. But outdated plans and insufficient training can also impact communications, whether it’s different agencies not speaking a common language or frightened parents who aren’t sure of what’s happening with their children during an emergency.

Fortunately, progress is being made on closing these gaps. New and more interoperable technologies can help all parties better communicate during an emergency and improve how law enforcement monitors fast-changing developments. During these incidents, accurate situational awareness is paramount to effective and efficient incident resolution. And schools are revisiting and revising outdated plans to help make sure school personnel and parents alike are prepared for an emergency.

Closing the gaps

A top issue with school emergency operation or action plans (EOPs/EAPs) today is that they rely on disparate and disconnected technologies.

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