Safety and security is a top priority for educational institutions across the country. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it became clear that schools must be prepared to face a wide variety of issues and have a system in place for addressing incidents.
In a recent article for Campus Safety Magazine, school security expert Guy Bliesner explains a simple 3-step system for simplifying school safety and security. This system looks at the basics needed to be prepared and properly handle a school security incident. The three steps he outlines are Detect, Communicate, Respond.
The first step in any safety and security situation is detecting that there is a problem. Bliesner states that although schools regularly have video surveillance, there is not always someone monitoring the feed. Video systems are better left for recording or reporting incidents - not detection. Properly trained people are a school’s best resource for detecting incidents and threats, and teachers are uniquely positioned at the forefront of school activity which makes them incredibly valuable for detecting issues upfront.
The second step of the process is to communicate. Bliesner simply describes this step as getting the right information to the right person at the right time. There must be infrastructure in place to quickly, consistently, and reliably send information from person to person. While some situations, like behavior concerns, do not need to be rapidly relayed to another person, other incidents, like an active shooter, need to be communicated to others immediately. The successfulness of responding to an incident is dependent on having the proper systems and protocols in place before a situation occurs.
The third component of the system is response. “Only after the issue has been detected and the information has moved to the right person(s) in the appropriate time frame can an effective response be initiated,” Bliesner states. An appropriate response is dependent on everyone being on the same page - it does not matter how effective your response plan is if the detection or communication is lacking.
The simple 3-step process that Bliesner lays out is a great tool for planning, training, and purchasing decisions related to safety and security. It provides the framework to review past safety incidents and find areas for improvement and collaboration between school staff, first responders, and the community.
Bliesner reiterates the importance of properly trained staff and administrators for safety and security. Our Vector Training K-12 Staff Safety and Compliance library is a great resource for training incident detection, communication, and response skills. Topics covered include Threat Assessment, Emergency Operations: Building the Plan, Accident Investigation, Crisis Response and Recovery, School Violence: Identifying and Addressing, and more!
The Vector LiveSafe Tip Reporting and Safety Communications Platform makes the communication step of the process easier than ever. With the Vector LiveSafe mobile app, school administrators, students, and parents can anonymously report school security and incident tips. Administrators can broadcast messages and easily monitor situations with the administrator dashboard and reports. A silent panic alarm is also available to comply with Alyssa’s Law.