School Safety with Emergency Notification Systems
School safety is a crucial issue today more than ever. Life Safety and Emergency Notification Systems (ENS) are a top priority. Schools need to be proactive in their emergency situation planning and update their systems to reflect the needs of emergency procedures and communication.
ENS utilizes the building’s public address system to sound bells, make announcements and activate strobes for emergencies such as severe weather, intruder/active shooter and medical alerts. A major benefit in a well designed ENS is it allows for campus wide communication for pre-recorded messages which are imperative in high stress situations. Schools are able to have a calm, pre-recorded message versus a live operator trying to deliver the same message in a high-stress situation. These messages can be triggered in a variety of ways such as push buttons or cell phones.
ENS also integrates with fire, security and access control. It crosses all platforms to notify students, teachers and first responders based on each individual scenario. It’s vital to connect all parties in emergency situations beyond school faculty and staff to provide clear and concise real time Information and messages. Those with special needs require consideration and the ENS can address those needs as well.
So what needs to change? Schools need to start thinking about a plan for different kinds of emergency situations and their responses to them. They need to plan for all possible scenarios beforehand and have a plan in place before any situation arises.
Schools need to be proactive in their responses, not waiting to find out their systems don’t work during an emergency. The system needs to be flexible, scalable and reliable to send information. There are new voice intelligibility standards that should be acknowledged as noted in the NFPA 72 Emergency Communications Systems guidelines. Messages need to be audible but also must be intelligible to be understood over the public address and emergency communications systems.
Solutions should be looking towards the future. This includes monitoring, centralized control, effective emergency notification, mobile accessibility and communication to all classrooms. New IP-based systems include centralized computers for individual speaker monitoring, load monitoring, amplifier channel monitoring, end of line monitoring, scream detection, camera integration, remote monitoring, remote system administration and control.
ENS is not just for schools. ENS should be used for any area where people are gathering and emergency information needs to be communicated. Some examples are manufacturing plants, malls, sports arenas and airports.