In a recent article published in the “Expert Commentary” section of securityinformed.com, titled, Importance of Establishing Security Standards for K12 Schools, Mark Williams explains some of the difficulties schools face in implementing and carrying out proper security procedures. In the article he says, “School administrators are experts in running schools and providing education. However, most are not security experts and do not understand the complexity of implementing a comprehensive physical security program across their districts. Still, they are often contacted repeatedly by organizations with multiple safety and security products.”
This is why we recommend five key steps in developing and integrating security programs and plans in the schools and other locations we work with.
Steps 1-4 of this list are generally not as much of an issue for schools. The main issue schools need to tie all of their other security investments together is clear communication among everyone involved. This becomes especially important when you think about the different types of emergency situations a school is liable to be facing.
In a fire, there will be entirely different emergency procedures than what one would do in a lock out, a shelter in place, or a lock out situation. Every kind of situation requires entirely different kinds of emergency protocols, but the thing that all of them need is clear and effective communication.
Since its implementation, DIR-S is used in real situations on a very regular basis. Just over a year ago, there was a Subway Restaurant next to an elementary school that had an armed intruder.
The local police used DIR-S to send out a “Lock Out” alert to the elementary school, and within seconds all of the teachers were notified, and the exterior doors were locked down. As far as goings on in the classroom, teachers were able to continue teaching while still receiving real time updates as to the situation and what they should do with their students, and the students were able to continue learning without any interruption.
When this alert went off, the district safety officer was boarding a cruise ship on his vacation, and he received the alert on his smart watch. He was able to communicate and keep up with the entire alert process from his cell phone. He and the principal were able to see the same map and communicate with local police all from their own locations while the school was in lock out mode.
Without this quick, clear, and effective line of communication provided by DIR-S, this situation would have been much more complicated to communicate to the different entities involved. It also would have taken much longer to get the school in lock out mode without possibly causing a panic. In real life emergency situations, time is everything.
As Mr. Williams says in his previously mentioned article, “It’s not just having the right protection equipment in the building; it’s also having a procedural layer in place to make sure everyone knows their roles and responsibilities in the event of a fire. The stress of the actual event can limit ones’ ability to think clearly. Practice makes perfect. Why would we approach school security any differently?”
This elementary school takes their school’s security seriously, and they drill often and effectively with DIR-S. They were well prepared for the situation, and everyone involved knew exactly what to do. They were able to handle the situation with clear end effective communication, and the situation was handled without harm to anyone or any kind of panic within the school.
To refer back to Mr. Williams’ article, schools can spend all they want on security hardware. That is all great, but it is imperative that they have well established and thoroughly drilled procedures for what to do in emergency situations. All of the amazing hardware will be next to useless if teachers, administrators, and responders do not have a clear and effective way to communicate with one another throughout the ordeal. This is where DIR-S comes in. DIR-S allows everyone involved to coordinate their efforts in the most effective way possible to handle any situation they might be facing.