There were several live incidents using DIR-S this week. One, in particular, was exceptionally intriguing because of what DIR-S allowed the various groups involved to do.
A student was reported missing at a school, and the school that issued the alert is right on the border of the city where both city and county police departments were responsible for responding to the alert.
In this particular location, city and county police do not communicate that much, but they do use the same dispatch center.
When this student went missing, the school sent out an alert on DIR-S, which notified both police departments and dispatch. Before, in situations where both police departments were involved, one of the largest issues, became maintaining effective communication through the ordeal. In this instance though, everyone was connected through DIR-S, and within six minutes of the alert being sent out and police responding, the child was found, and everyone involved was updated.
When there is a student missing, there is no time that can be wasted in finding them and getting the situation resolved. Communication among the different entities involved is often something that ends up wasting a large amount of time, and wasted time is something that no one can afford when it comes to locating a missing child.
This incident was one of various times when DIR-S was used in this past week by schools in live incidents. We are able to monitor from our headquarters every drill and live incident that involves DIR-S.
It has been very encouraging for us to see how more and more of our client schools are taking their security seriously, and they are conducting regular drills. Every school that does this is able to respond so much quicker to real emergency situations better than ever before.
In every situation where schools have been proficient with DIR-S and have used to stay in open communication, the situation has been handled in a much quicker manner. These minutes and even seconds that are saved by schools using DIR-S are precious, and their value cannot be underestimated.
This past week, a few members of our team had the opportunity to attend an active shooter preparedness seminar in Salt Lake City that was put on by the Department of Homeland Security.
It was an all-day meeting, split into six modules, covering everything from safety protocols that schools and other types of organizations should have in place before any kind of emergency situations happens to the recovery process after something has happened.
In the fourth module, they talked about the uses that emergency communications platforms can be put to, and some of the main things that the Homeland Security representative emphasized were the same things that we have stressed to our clients when setting them up with DIR-S.
You can have the most amazing program in the world, but if your people are not intimately familiar with it, they will not be prepared when faced with an emergency situation. Over and over through the training, they talked about how important it is to drill regularly using your emergency communications system.
That makes it so that when faced with a real situation, no matter the magnitude, everyone will know exactly what to do, and the situation will be handled quickly and effectively.
Just this past week, the first week of school, there were several live incidents using DIR-S. In one of those incidents, there was a city-wide power outage.
The school officials were able to use DIR-S on their smart phones to keep everyone connected and informed throughout the situation. It was handled very quickly, and they were able to stay in communication. Everyone in the school was kept informed, and school was kept in session.
Several things were proven in this one instance.
This picture provided shows how well any type of situation can be handled when DIR-S is used.
They were able to stay in communication, even when the power in the whole town went down.
It is important to note that not only can schools use DIR-S when there is something drastic like a bomb threat or a shooter, but whenever there might be something like an allergic reaction, bad weather, or even a temporary power outage.
In short, DIR-S is the best emergency communications program there is, and we are always working to make it even better.
· Question: What is the cardinal sin for kids going back to school?
· Answer: Realizing that you are wearing the same set of clothes as someone else on the first day of school.
· Question: What is the cardinal sin for school officials going back to school?
· Answer: Realizing that your school’s security is lacking.
Don’t commit this kind of mistake. School security is not something that should be taken lightly or that should be thought of as merely a check mark on a list of to-do's.
There is so much that schools need to do to be prepared for the upcoming school year, but more important than fun classroom decorations, awesome assembly plans, or even having good snacks stocked into the faculty room refrigerator.
We stay in nearly constant contact with our software team to continually be ensuring that DIR-S will be the best program our clients have ever worked with. Since it is meant to be used in all kinds of emergency situations, we understand the weight of this importance.
All schools know that security protocols and systems are important, but many do not understand what all they need, and the importance of drilling regularly with what they have. This is why DIR-S has been able to reduce reaction times so much. Having hardware and protocols already in place is fantastic, and we are not looking to replace any of those. We just want to help them work together more smoothly.
No matter what systems you have in place, the most important thing is that they can all work together effectively. DIR-S fills that need of tying everything together by offering an easy to use, and thorough, channel of communication that is meant to be used in emergency situations.
When an alert is started, there are several different tabs that can be used.
There is a report tab (figure 1) where you can see if there have been any students reported as missing. Any teacher or responder can report, and mark students as found on this tab.
On the chat tab (figure 2), there are several different options. There is the “Global Chat” where everyone connected to that school can send messages and communicate. This is where admin and responders will send out specific instructions as to what to do, and also updates as to the status of the incident and those involved.
Also on the chat tab, responders or school/district officials can select to speak directly to a specific person, ie: if there is a student having an allergic reaction in their room, they do not necessarily need to be on the chat board that everyone can see.
Next to the names of each teacher on the chat tab, there is a small phone icon that changes color depending on the status of their classroom, e.g. “Safe” or “Unsafe.” This icon can also be used for responders and officials to call that teacher directly on their personal phone.
The third tab (figure 3) is the location tab. This tab allows you to access the interactive map of your school and indicate your location. While in this, you indicate whether your room is safe or unsafe, also whether or not you need medical assistance. This status can be changed and updated at any time throughout the incident.
DIR-S is not just an excellent tool for alerting people about situations, but it provides clear and concise communication throughout the ordeal.
This is so important because as situations continue to develop and unfold, teachers need to be able to keep others updated, and even escalate the alert if the initial status worsens.
DIR-S has proven itself over and over again, and one of the main things that we make clear when we are showing it to people is that it is not meant to replace whatever they might already have in place. It is meant to work with the programs and protocols you already have, and help them to work together in a better harmony to help reaction times to emergencies be cut down to seconds.
In preparing for the coming school year, we have met with some outstanding people who have been willing to help us spread the word about how much good DIR-S can do for schools.
We were featured in a news story ON KSL 5 news, with Canyons School district earlier this week.
We were also able to conduct an interview with a woman named Natasha Wilson, who along with being a high school teacher, has a daughter who suffers from tonic-clonic seizures.
In all kinds of emergency situations, it is imperative to make every second count when responding to emergency situations. When a person is having a seizure, it is very likely that they will not only cause harm to themselves when the seizure hits, but as Natasha so aptly describes in her interview, it is a traumatic thing for anyone who is present when it takes place.
DIR-S makes it possible for schools to respond to emergency situations much faster than ever before. For example, when someone has a seizure or an allergic reaction, teachers generally not medically trained, and there is a lot of misinformation as to what should be done in these different instances. Either way, it needs to be responded to in a timely manner.
If there is one student in the classroom who is having a seizure, allergic reaction, or whatever it may be. The teacher needs to be able to take care of the whole rest of the people in the classroom, while trained medical professionals take care of the student who is having the problem.
With the ability DIR-S provides to instantly indicate where the emergency is happening, along with the added ability for school officials to stay updated while the situation is being handled, schools and teachers are now able to respond to and work through emergency situations faster than ever before.
The adaptable and efficient nature of DIR-S is what makes it so outstanding. It is meant to be used in every situation ranging from an active shooter, fights between students, natural disasters, to seizures and other medical emergencies.
This week, we have had several opportunities to meet with schools and other clients. It has been an incredibly exciting week, and we are continually, more and more encouraged about how many incredible feedback responses we have received.
Functioning phone/intercom system, check.
Evacuation maps in every room, check.
Security cameras in the halls, check.
Something tying all of those together to keep up to date communications open with everyone involved throughout any incident…?
This is where DIR-S comes in. School security is incredibly important and having up to date hardware and protocols is imperative for any school and are worth their weight in gold when it comes to keeping students and faculty safe. Often times the thing that schools still find themselves lacking in is something that will tie together everything that they already have.
Every time we present DIR-S to school or other facilities, we make it clear that it is not meant to replace whatever security systems or protocols they might already have in place.
For example, security cameras and auto locking doors are an excellent thing for schools to be outfitted with. When faced with a real-life situation, locked doors and cameras can do a lot, but having clear and effective communication throughout the situation is irreplaceable.
Schools are faced with a wide variety of different kinds of situations on a regular basis. DIR-S has been proven time and time again in keeping open communications among teachers, officials, and responders. This has made it so that response time to emergencies has been cut down drastically in schools that have implemented DIR-S and taken it seriously.
Recently, DIR-S was used in a school when a fight broke out among students after school.
The school principal sent out an alert on DIR-S as soon as he received word that the fight had broken out, and the school resource officer and surrounding faculty was instantly notified.
The school resource officer and principal were able to stay in active communication while handling the entire situation.
Fights are something that all schools find themselves handling on a regular basis, and they need to be handled in the most effective and quick way possible.
Everything a school can do to help their school safety is good, but they need to all be able to work together effectively, and that is exactly what DIR-S does.