Time is a Factor in a Hostile Crisis

The shooting at Saugus High School in Santa Clarita, CA highlights a continued problem that schools face during an active shooter event.  After all the external security has been compromised and a perpetrator starts an attack, how do we quickly initiate a lockdown and get police notified.  Time and again we have seen that there is a long delay in getting accurate information to those that need to respond.  Whether it is the staff that should barricade/exit, police that need to respond or getting other schools that need to start the lockdown we see the continued inability of those in crisis to effectively communicate.

According to law enforcement officials the timeline highlights areas that can be improved.  Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Kent Wegener told reporters that “video footage caught the gunman firing the weapon in Saugus High School’s quad shortly after 7:30 a.m.” The first reported 911 call came in at 7:38 a.m. with officers arriving 2 minutes later at 7:40 a.m.  While the response time is impressive the delay in notification is concerning.  Previous incidents have shown that a quick response saves lives in both stopping the attack and administering trauma aid to the victims.  It cannot be presumed that officers would have been able to stop an attack that lasted less only 16 seconds, but it is obvious that victim’s have a better chance of survival if they receive life saving trauma immediately.

Relying on 911 calls to inform emergency responders of accurate information in a timely manner has continued to fail time and again.  Thinking that those immediately impacted by the crisis have the ability and wherewithal to quickly call 911, notify building occupants to seek shelter while also pursuing safety for themselves and their students is too much to ask.  The answer is a single stage notification system similar to a fire alarm.  While addressing school threats is a multilayered approach involving deterrence, detection, and prevention the aspect of immediate response is often overlooked. The SAFEDEFEND™   System was specifically designed to address this missing component for schools in a crisis