There is always room for discussion when it comes to school safety. We need to look at other areas of security and determine how those apply to the school setting. Our schools are too porous to apply the same model used in federal, state and local government buildings. Window laminates slow the entry into a building but they aren’t bullet proof and can slow the exit as well. More importantly, most school shootings start inside and the window laminate could slow a law enforcement response. Alarms accomplish the two most important components when it comes to reducing casualties in schools; quick notification to police and alert to building occupants to lock down. If you make alarms silent you remove the ability to notify staff to initiate the lockdown protocol.
Alarms are deployed all over for a variety of purposes. Bank alarms address the threat of an intruder whose sole purpose is usually to quickly get money and escape. There isn’t a direct intent to harm others. The silent alarm works to inform police and allow them to respond and set up a perimeter. Hopefully, the robber will flee and be apprehended on the exterior. Police rarely enter a robbery location until they can make a determination that the incident won’t escalate into a hostage situation or worse a shootout. The point of the silent alarm is to alert police without tipping the criminal that help has been summoned.
In the case of a home alarm a burglar is the most common type of intruder. In this situation it is important to understand we want to alert the intruder that police are coming. If the home is either unoccupied or occupied the hope is the criminal will flee upon hearing the audible alarm. The alarm being set off and heard means that those inside have just been alerted to the threat and the police have been notified. The goal is to halt any further negative actions.
The same principle for alarms is used in a fire emergency. By activating the alarm the building occupants are notified and responding emergency services personnel are informed. Those inside can take steps to protect themselves knowing that help is on the way. This same philosophy that should be applied to school safety.
When it comes to school alarms we want to follow the model of the burglar and fire alarm. The alert should be universal. Everyone in the building should hear and see some type of audible and visual signal that a threat exists in the building. The activation of the alarm system will reassure those present that law enforcement are responding. No time needs to be taken to attempt 911 calls or making public announcements because the alarm has done that for them. The only concern is getting to safety. Whether that is securing a barricade in a room or exiting the building the objective is to keep the casualties as small as possible. If a silent alarm is used the students, faculty and visitors inside a school are unaware of the threat to their safety. A hostile intruder that enters a school with a weapon has only nefarious intent and knows what they are doing. We should announce to the world that a threat has taken place and provide as much information to those directly in the line of fire. Silent alarms miss this critical component.
SAFEDEFEND™ is a system that fundamentally changes the response to school threats. With the touch of a finger we can alert police, notify building occupants, and provide accurate information exactly where in the building the threat is taking place. Responding officers are given exact room, hallway, building, and address information so they know where to go once inside. Staff are informed where the threat is so they can avoid that area and make the best decision to barricade or exit. Saving lives is based on quick notification to everyone.