Keeping students and staff safe during an emergency is a priority for administrators in schools, colleges and universities around the world. An emergency situation can take place with little or no warning, and unless there are adequate and effective systems in place to alert students and faculty members, lives can be lost or people could be seriously injured.
A 2018 study by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevenmass notification system for schools (CDC) found that many public school districts in the USA don’t have appropriate plans in place to respond to natural disasters, outbreaks of infectious disease and other emergencies. This is despite a federal directive in place for all schools to address these needs before 2020.
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Reach people quickly to save lives with a mass notification system for schools
In an emergency every second count. Fires move quickly. Active shooter incidents can unfold in just minutes. An earthquake can turn buildings to rubble in seconds. The longer it takes to let people know, the worse the outcome could potentially be. Schools can have hundreds, sometimes thousands of students, making the task of reaching them all even more complicated.
By investing in an emergency notification system for schools you can reach people quickly across different devices, using a range of communication channels.
Nominated members of staff, such as management, school administrators, human resources, communications, IT or facilities personnel have access to the system to send emergency communications messages to students and staff.
There are lots of different emergency notification systems for schools on the market. In general, they will send messages to computers, phones, tablets and other screens about the situation and provide instructions on what steps people need to take to be safe, for example, they must evacuate or they must seek shelter immediately.
Some mass notification systems for schools will dial numbers, leave voice mail messages and also alert authorities such as police, fire or ambulance to an emergency situation.
What situations require a school notification system?
The range of potential emergency situations schools can face is large: from natural disasters like hurricanes, tornados, and earthquakes to fires, gas leaks, active shooters, and other violent outbreaks… having the ability to react quickly and provide advice on what steps need to be taken can help to prevent or reduce casualties. These are some of the reasons you should consider mass notification systems for schools on your campus:
1. Active shooter situations
Unfortunately, there have been a number of school shootings in recent years and these incidents seem to increase. Most active shooter events are over in less than 10 minutes, and around half are over before first responders arrive with help. The quicker you can let people know via a school notification system that such a situation is unfolding, the quicker they can take action and keep safe.
Fires can spread quickly and without an orderly response, people can panic and cause even more problems. When a fire breaks out you need to be able to quickly let people know in the affected area so they can evacuate to a safe area.
3. Gas and chemical leaks
There are a number of different hazardous substances on school campuses that could cause harm to staff and students. This can include chemicals in science and other technical facilities or gas that can be used throughout the campus. When gas and chemicals leak the situation can escalate quickly and become lethal – from the potential for explosions through to the risks caused by inhalation of or exposure to the substance.
4. Natural disasters
A wide range of natural disasters can strike at any time including earthquakes, forest fires, tornados, hurricanes and floods. When your school finds itself impacted by a natural disaster you need to quickly alert your students and staff members with the appropriate steps to take. For example, they may need to evacuate if there is a forest fire approaching, or shelter in place if it is too late to leave.
5. Severe weather events
Severe weather events can turn deadly quickly. People can be killed by falling trees in open areas, damaging winds can blow heavy objects away and torrential rain can turn to flash flooding. When there’s a severe weather event, mass notification systems for schools alert everyone on campus so they can be aware and vigilant, for example, stay away from open areas in lightning.
Lockdown situations have become increasingly common. There are many reasons a school might choose to lockdown: the presence of threatening strangers (before an active shooter situation arises), suspicious packages, bomb threats, dangerous activities happening in areas surrounding the school and other hazards. Some schools in Australia, for example, lockdown if there is a venomous snake seen on the grounds until a snake catcher can remove it. Whatever the reason, a mass notification to everyone can advise that the lockdown is happening, the reasons behind it and what steps they need to take to be safe.
5 templates to use if there’s an emergency at your school
The more time you save in an emergency situation, the more likely it is you can save lives. We’ve made it even quicker for you to inform your students and staff with these templates for five common emergency situations your school could find itself in the midst of. Simply copy these into new templates in your DeskAlerts system. All you have to do is tailor them during an actual emergency event to include the relevant details.
What features are needed in school emergency notification systems
When you’re looking to invest in a school emergency notification system, you should consider whether or not it has the following features:
- Notifications can be sent quickly and reach everyone within moments.
- Supports multi-media content so you can distribute things like maps.
- Notifications can be sent to both computers and mobile devices (also consider digital signage for emergency alerts).
- Includes or can be integrated with sirens.
- Is deliberately disruptive so that people pay attention to it.
- Can be sent to custom audiences.
Why you should consider DeskAlerts school emergency alert system
DeskAlerts is a proven emergency alert system for schools. It works by sending messages to computer and other screens as well as to mobile phones and tablets.
When you have a large campus or multiple campuses you may not need to let the entire organization know about the emergency situation. DeskAlerts school alert system has an audience segmentation feature that allows you to send only to those who are affected, for example the Engineering building or your campus in City A.
You can save even more time in an emergency by creating your own predefined templates that cater for a range of scenarios – all you have to do is fill in a few details during an actual emergency and hit send.
DeskAlerts school alert system can also be used for non-emergency communications, improving your return on investment when you use it to improve overall communications within your educational institution.
Features of DeskAlerts that set it apart from other mass notification systems for schools include:
- Pop-up notifications on computer screens alerting users to an emergency situation and providing advice on what to do next. Messages can’t be skipped or ignored and will appear on screens that are on screensaver or standby mode.
- Lock-screen alerts can be sent which take up the entire screen and prevent students and staff from being able to do anything else on the computer – absolutely guaranteed to grab their attention.
- The ability to send images or video alerts – this can include maps or instructional videos on what to do.
- Send quickly via a “panic button” – a shortcut on your computer desktop or an app on your phone that you can always have on hand, even if you’re away from your desk, to alert your school quickly to an urgent situation.
- Reach people quickly – DeskAlerts can send 1000 messages in less than a minute.
- Multi-channel messaging can be used to ensure you reach your students and staff in a variety of ways, from alert notifications to scrolling tickers, text messages, push notifications and more..
- Powerful statistics module lets you see who has seen the messages and determine who hasn’t – this can help you determine who you need to follow up with afterwards to check to see if they are safe.
DeskAlerts doesn’t alert trespassers to your response – when there’s an intruder, active shooter or other stranger causing issues they won’t hear sirens and warnings and won’t know you’ve alerted the campus.
DeskAlerts school alert system can also be used for non-emergency communications, improving your return on investment when you use it to improve overall communications within your educational institution. Examples of how it is used in schools include:
- Sending school news
- Running teacher/student surveys
- For health promotion campaigns, such as healthy eating, via custom screensavers
- Sending reminders about important upcoming events and key dates, such as exam timetables
- Sending advice about cybersecurity, for example, viruses and phishing
- Sending reminders to return school issued laptops
- Reminding students about important deadlines
- Reminding individual students about overdue library books from the school library
How DeskAlerts clients use our mass notification system for schools
Case study: A school announcement system that works quickly
Saint-Anne private school, Luxembourg
Saint-Anne private school in Luxembourg was looking for a way to quickly deliver important notifications to classes during lectures. Before investing in DeskAlerts, they didn’t have any communications solution in place at all in the school. They needed a mass notification system for schools that could be used on both PC and Mac, and that would support and deliver multimedia content.
“We were looking for a software solution that could fulfil the requirements of a school announcement system,” said Victor Goncalves from the Sainte-Anne IT department.
“After trying a few solutions, we opted for DeskAlerts,” he said. “DeskAlerts allows the school director to transmit pre-recorded messages (text, audio, video) to the teacher’s computer in our classrooms.
“With an alert appearing on the screen, the teacher powers on beamer and speakers and plays the message to the students in his classroom,” Mr Goncalves said.
Case study: A school alert system guaranteed to reach everyone
Henry Ford Community College, the USA
Henry Ford Community College is located in Dearborn, Michigan in the USA and has around 17,000 students. The school had been relying on email and SMS systems to send notifications to students and employees, which became problematic when phones would be switched off during class so as not to disrupt others. Email was also problematic as it relied on people actively checking their emails and there was no guarantee they would look at the emails in a timely manner.
HFCC chose DeskAlerts as its school alert system and has deployed it to every employee workstation and student computer on campus. The school can compose alerts and broadcast them to 2000 different workstations in minutes.
Connect to students and staff in emergency situations immediately with DeskAlerts
Frequently asked questions
What is a school emergency alert system?
A school emergency alert system is a tool that allows schools to communicate quickly to staff, students, first responders and others so that they can take appropriate action in the event of an emergency situation.
What is an effective emergency notification system?
An effective emergency notification system is one that will enable you to send rapid and reliable broadcast notifications so that you are able to prevent and manage emergency situations.
What is an emergency alert message?
An emergency alert message is a piece of communication sent to people to let them know about an emergency or other urgent situation so that they can take the appropriate steps to be safe.
Who controls the emergency alert system?
The United States of America has a national emergency alert system that is used by both state and local authorities to alert citizens to emergency situations. The emergency alert system itself is the responsibility of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).