Following the Parkland incident, we asked:
  • Why couldn’t staff tell whether to respond to the fire alarm or lockdown?
  • Why didn’t the incident management team know which children were safe, injured or unaccounted for?
  • Why did it take so long to determine where the shooting was occurring?
Our research led us to the answers and to the glaring issues that exist with current school emergency communication protocols.

PROBLEM 1:  OUTDATED COMMUNICATION TOOLS

  • Staff in Parkland did not immediately understand what was going on because their lockdown safety procedures relied on audio intercom exclusively, which could not be heard while the fire alarm was ringing
  • The incident management team at Parkland did not know which children were safe, injured or unaccounted for because there was no real-time method for teachers to be able to transmit this information to incident managers
  • It took a long time to determine where the shooting was taking place because like most public schools, Stoneman Douglas lacked a method for incident managers to quickly send and receive emergency communications
The current archaic system of incident communication is the cause of these problems.  Established by the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA years ago, procedures are still largely based upon the use of an intercom and paper rosters.
Some schools have augmented these procedures to require additional roll-calls to be taken – on paper.
Since written records are not transmitted to incident management teams, it is clear to see the communication failures inherent in current protocols.

PROBLEM 2:  SHRINKING SCHOOL BUDGETS

Budget constraints within the public-school system have unfortunately become the norm.
Our goal is to ensure that school district financial constraints do not lead to compromised student safety.