In an era marked by unprecedented challenges, ensuring campus safety and security has never been more critical. Across K-12 and university institutions, the well-being of students, staff, and visitors stands as a non-negotiable priority. Recent incidents underscore the urgency to fortify campus safety measures. According to a report sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education, Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2021, 93 school shootings with casualties occurred at U.S. public and private elementary and secondary schools from 2020-2021. This is the highest number reported in two decades.
Campuses should be sanctuaries of learning, growth, and community. Unfortunately, the increasing frequency of safety incidents has highlighted the urgency of enhancing campus safety measures. The Washington Post tracks school shootings and “the number of [school shooting] incidents has risen rapidly in recent years.” This reality emphasizes the necessity of fortified safety measures and proactive solutions. School officials, at K-12 and college campuses, need to implement solutions that can help prevent or mitigate the impact of these events. Especially because “K-12 schools and higher education institutions are the second most common location, after businesses, for active shooter incidents in the U.S.”
Gain valuable insights from nearly 800 security professionals on key initiatives and actionable recommendations inside the Everbridge 2023 Active Shooter Preparedness Report.
5 ways to bolster school and campus safety
Strategize with emergency plans and drills. A resilient campus safety strategy starts with meticulously crafted emergency plans. Institutions must outline precise protocols for various scenarios, ranging from natural disasters to active threats, with each demanding a distinct approach. Natural disasters demand swift evacuation and sheltering protocols, while active shooter scenarios necessitate lockdown and evacuation strategies. These plans aren’t merely documents; they translate into tangible actions through drills. Conducting regular practice drills allows the entire campus community to familiarize themselves with protocols, ensuring that reactions become instinctual in the face of crises. Such preparedness minimizes chaos, streamlines communication, and underscores the commitment to safeguarding every member of the campus family.
Safety and evacuation training
Empower students and staff with safety and evacuation training. Rapid responses during emergencies hinge on swift and informed action. Equipping the campus community with knowledge of evacuation routes, safe zones, and assembly points is paramount. The active shooter protocol at George Fox University is an example of a clear, actionable safety plan that empowers individuals with the tools to react swiftly. Conducting regular safety drills, discussing escape routes, and providing information on self-defense techniques can significantly enhance safety and readiness.
Safety and security technology
Leverage safety and security technology. By embracing cutting-edge technology, institutions can redefine campus safety. The Everbridge active shooter preparedness solutions exemplify this shift, facilitating swift communication and coordination during critical incidents. Real-time communication, coordination, and guidance during critical incidents reshape the way campuses manage crises. This technology facilitates instant alerts to designated individuals, enabling swift dissemination of crucial information. Moreover, these solutions offer real-time updates and two-way communication, ensuring the campus community is always informed and equipped to respond effectively. The integration of this technology into existing campus security strategies streamlines emergency response efforts, elevating the overall level of safety and security. With advanced technology solutions, campuses transition from reactive to responsive, ensuring that in the face of adversity, every second counts.
Implement tangible physical security measures. The essence of effective campus security is translating strategy into reality. This involves implementing access control systems, deploying security cameras, and maintaining a visible security presence. Elements like ID entry systems, panic buttons, fortified entrances, strategically placed lighting, and vigilant campus security officers collectively contribute to deterring threats and fostering a secure environment. By minimizing vulnerabilities and maximizing protection, physical security measures play a crucial role in maintaining campus safety. To help security teams, Everbridge offers solutions that can enhance real-time situational awareness through a single common operation picture, as opposed to isolated systems and data. This helps teams more quickly and easily identify security risks without the need to toggle between disparate applications.
Annual risk assessment
Commit to an annual risk assessment. Safety is an ongoing commitment that requires periodic evaluation and refinement. Conducting thorough annual risk assessments is pivotal to identifying vulnerabilities and potential areas for enhancement. Assessments drive continuous improvement, from assessing emergency plans and training effectiveness to scrutinizing access points, visitor management, surveillance coverage, evacuation routes, and illumination adequacy. By systematically evaluating all aspects of campus safety, institutions can adapt and enhance their security measures as needed.
Demonstrating a commitment to safety and security
Students and staff need to feel safe in their places of learning. Educational institutions are responsible for building a nurturing environment that prioritizes security without compromise. This requires taking a proactive approach to ensure a safe learning environment. This benefits both students and institutions because campus safety factors into students’ decision on which school to attend; according to a BestColleges survey, “The majority (60%) [of respondents] also say that campus safety was a factor they considered when choosing their college.” Campus leaders must prioritize safety and demonstrate what action they are taking to do so.
Everbridge offers a Best in ResilienceTM certification program that can help educational institutions:
- Benchmark against peers.
- Validate planning.
- Drive strong return on resilience investments.
- Formalize recognition.
- Reward individual achievements.
This signifies a school or institution’s focus on applying best practices that assure campuses are prepared to protect, adapt, and prosper. Becoming certified highlights an institution’s dedication to building resilience against active shooter situations and any critical event that occurs on or around campus.
By integrating emergency plans, rigorous training, cutting-edge technology, tangible security measures, and vigilant assessment, campuses can shield against vulnerabilities and respond adeptly to crises. These proactive steps protect individuals and contribute to the quality of education offered by the institution. The solutions Everbridge offers can help schools foster an environment where learning flourishes and safety is a priority.
Increase your campus’s resilience by preparing now. You can find actionable insights from nearly 800 security professionals in the Everbridge 2023 Active Shooter Preparedness Report.
Every day, Emergency Call Centers (ECC) and Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) handle hundreds of emergency calls. For each call, operators must document, triage, prioritize, escalate, and route appropriately so first responders and equipment can be mobilized and dispatched in the most efficient way.
In today’s fast-paced world, organizations face numerous challenges when it comes to ensuring the safety and well-being of their employees during critical events. That’s where the integration of E911 and mass notification technologies can make a significant difference. In this blog, we will explore five compelling reasons why organizations should embrace the powerful combination of these emergency management solutions. By understanding the benefits of integrating E911 and mass notification systems, you’ll gain valuable insights into how these tools can enhance safety, increase productivity, ensure compliance, improve coordination, and enhance your organization’s reputation.
By integrating an E911 solution with mass notification, organizations can enhance employee safety by enabling on-site staff to immediately assist in emergencies and informing the proper stakeholders of emergency situations in real-time.
By using the most accurate location of the caller, E911 routes emergency calls to the appropriate Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), enabling the quickest response possible from first responders and on-site staff.
If someone were to dial 9-1-1 from the organization’s network, an integrated E911 and mass notification system with incident communications enables response teams to be deployed while security teams, administrative personnel, and office managers are alerted of the emergency in real-time. This not only expedites management but allows businesses to keep other employees safe should the emergency affect them as well.
For example, if an individual dials 9-1-1 about a fire occurring in a multi-story office building, an E911 and mass notification integration:
- Provides emergency responders the exact location of the emergency caller
- Automatically alerts security teams to respond to the incident
- Notifies other on-site personnel so they are prepared to help responders quickly get to the scene
If the situation impacts others in the building, organizations can use the same system to send alerts out to those in the building to tell them to evacuate. To successfully enhance safety, leaders and security professionals also need to understand where their current gaps in emergency management lie. In our recent white paper, “From Chaos to Control,” we provide a checklist of the right questions to ask so leaders can easily determine where they need to focus their efforts.
With timely and effective communication, businesses can minimize disruption during emergencies and avoid downtime caused by ineffective response.
According to a 2023 Total Economic Impact™ Study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Everbridge, recaptured employee productivity amounted to $861,000 over a three-year span with implementation of a mass notification solution like Everbridge. For security teams, the increased productivity totaled $607,500 annually*.
The study showed a 25% reduction in downtime attributable to Everbridge solutions as a result of earlier alerts and faster response team communication.
A Global Security Operations Manager featured in the study stated, “[We were] manually uploading employee addresses into online maps and then, as an incident occurred, teams were pushing the incident onto the map trying to figure out what the potential impact was. The process was very manual and tedious.”
With an integrated E911 solution and mass notification system with incident communications, organizations can expand their real-time insights on potentially disruptive emergencies, giving them more time to avoid impact and protect employee productivity.
Investing in E911 and mass notification with incident communications can help businesses comply with federal safety regulations, created by agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), and protect them from potential legal liabilities.
OSHA has developed safety standards that require employers with 10 or more employees to have a documented emergency action plan in the workplace, available for employees to review. Off-site or work-from-home employees are not exempt from federal laws regarding employee safety.
With a mass notification system in place, organizations can have multiple emergency action plans ready for review and activation should a critical event occur. Managers can automatically send real-time alerts and instructions to groups and individuals during critical events and benefit from two-way communications to ensure all their people are out of harm’s way.
Additionally, regulations are now in place that require the use of E911 technology:
- Kari’s Law requires direct dialing to 9-1-1 and automatic notification to front desk or security personnel.
- The RAY BAUM’s Act requires organizations to provide a “dispatchable location” of an emergency caller to the emergency call center or PSAP, which includes their detailed location information such as a street address, floor, apartment, or suite number.
E911 solutions ensure organizations maintain compliance with both Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM’s Act by finding emergency callers, routing their calls to the nearest emergency call centers, and notifying the appropriate security or administrative personnel. Most importantly, E911 helps companies protect their workforce, especially as mobile and work-from-home models become more common.
Together, E911 technology and mass notification with incident communications systems ensure organizations remain 100% compliant with federally mandated regulations.
When E911 and mass notification solutions are paired together, organizations can reduce the time it takes to alert the proper individuals or groups about the existence of an emergency within their network. This allows for improved coordination and can provide extra time to better manage critical events.
Take Santander as an example, the 16th largest banking institution in the world, which has over 400 branches across the Eastern U.S. alone. After implementing Everbridge Mass Notification, they reduced their time to notify employees by 100%. They saved 10-15 minutes for every alert and potentially up to 30 minutes for the entire notification lifecycle.
With Everbridge E911 integrated with Mass Notification, organizations can automatically alert managers whenever an emergency call is made from the organization’s network in addition to risk events such as severe weather, IT disruptions, or physical security disturbances. This provides a holistic view of potential risk and enables teams to coordinate response more quickly, no matter the type of event they are managing.
When organizations demonstrate an active commitment to employee safety and prioritize duty of care to employees, they can positively influence their reputation. Employees who feel protected and safe in their workplace are much more likely to remain with their company, which improves retention rates and helps overall brand image.
To further improve retention rates, organizations must actively uphold their duty of care, not just discuss their commitment to the concept. This requires businesses and security professionals to prioritize effective emergency management and response to physical and digital threats that might impact their teams. Implementing an integrated approach to mass notification and E911 helps organizations more quickly identify emergencies and take the proper steps toward resolution to best protect their employees and make sure they feel safe and secure.
Build more resilient operations
The integration of E911 solutions and mass notification technologies is a crucial step for organizations looking to enhance their emergency management capabilities. By leveraging accurate location data and real-time communication channels, organizations can significantly improve employee safety during critical events. Furthermore, the integration of these tools boosts productivity by minimizing disruption and response time, ensuring business continuity. Compliance with federal safety regulations, such as Kari’s Law and the RAY BAUM’s Act, becomes seamless with E911 and mass notification systems. The improved coordination and faster response provided by these integrated solutions empower organizations to handle emergencies efficiently and mitigate potential risks. Lastly, by prioritizing employee safety and demonstrating a commitment to duty of care, organizations enhance their reputation and foster a positive work environment.
In today’s unpredictable world, integrating emergency management tools is not just an option; it’s a necessity for organizations that value the well-being of their employees and strive for operational resilience.
To learn more about the importance of integrated notification and response systems in emergency situations, we invite you to read our latest whitepaper, “From chaos to control: the importance of integrated notification and response systems in emergency situations.”
Take the proactive step towards building resilience and gaining control during emergencies with Everbridge.
*Study results were based on a composite organization comprised of interviewees with experience using the Critical Event Management (CEM) platform.
Workplace violence is a significant concern that affects employee well-being and safety as well as the overall success of a business. According to statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), workplace violence impacts over 37,000 US workers each year. This issue not only poses severe consequences for all employees but can introduce hefty costs for organizations. As employers, it is crucial to prioritize the safety of employees and take proactive measures to prevent workplace violence and maintain operations.
In this blog, we will explore practical strategies to ensure safe workplaces and reduce the risk of violence. If you’d like information specifically about active shooter preparedness, read our new “2023 Active Shooter Preparedness Report” to learn valuable insights from over 800 organizations.
1. Create violence, harassment, and bullying prevention policies
Establishing comprehensive policies addressing violence, harassment, and bullying is essential. These policies should clearly define unacceptable behavior, provide guidelines for reporting incidents, and outline disciplinary measures. By establishing a zero-tolerance approach and communicating it to all employees, organizations can foster a culture of respect and create a safer work environment. Regularly review and update these policies to ensure their effectiveness and alignment with evolving workplace dynamics.
2. Implement training and awareness programs
Training and awareness programs play a crucial role to prevent workplace violence. These programs should cover topics such as anti-bullying strategies, conflict resolution, mental health awareness, and the five types of violence (criminal intent, customer/client, worker-on-worker, domestic, and ideological). By educating employees on recognizing warning signs, managing conflicts, and promoting a culture of non-violence, organizations can empower individuals to respond effectively. Offer periodic refresher training sessions to reinforce these principles and provide employees with the tools to de-escalate potentially volatile situations.
3. Establish clear reporting procedures
Employees need to feel confident in reporting incidents without fear of retaliation. Employers should establish reporting mechanisms that ensure trust, confidentiality, and a commitment to addressing concerns promptly. It is crucial to communicate these reporting procedures clearly to every employee, making them aware of the channels available and emphasizing that their safety is a top priority. Provide multiple avenues for reporting, such as anonymous hotlines or online reporting systems, to accommodate different preferences and comfort levels.
4. Enhance site security measures
Implementing security measures can significantly help prevent workplace violence. This includes visitor access management, video surveillance systems, security guards or patrols, entry systems (such as key cards or pins), and panic buttons. By having these measures in place, and integrating systems, organizations can deter potential threats and provide a sense of security to employees. Conduct regular assessments of security protocols to identify any vulnerabilities and make necessary improvements to ensure an effective security infrastructure.
5. Perform regular risk assessments
Regular risk assessments are vital for identifying potential areas of improvement. Assessments should evaluate training completion rates, adherence to policies, and any gaps in preventive measures. By conducting thorough risk assessments, organizations can proactively address vulnerabilities and take corrective actions to enhance safety protocols. Engage employees in the risk assessment process by soliciting their feedback and observations to gain valuable insights into potential risks and implement targeted interventions.
6. Use communication channels to ensure employee safety
In dangerous or life-threatening situations, effective communication channels are critical. Employers should utilize emergency communication tools and systems to disseminate timely information to employees. Emergency notification systems, mobile apps, or panic buttons can be employed to quickly alert and guide employees during crises, ensuring their safety. Conduct regular drills and simulations to familiarize employees with emergency procedures and test the efficiency of communication channels.
7. Maintain a healthy workplace
A healthy work environment contributes to overall employee well-being and reduces the likelihood of violence. Organizations should foster a professional and caring workplace culture that promotes open communication, work-life balance, and professional development opportunities. Implementing employee well-being programs and providing resources for mental health support can also contribute to a positive and safe work environment. Encourage open dialogue, establish employee assistance programs, and offer flexible work arrangements to support a healthy work-life balance.
8. Conduct post-event analysis
Following any workplace violence incident, a thorough post-event analysis is crucial. This analysis involves assessing the reasons behind the event, identifying any system failings, and determining what preventive measures can be implemented to prevent similar incidents. By learning from past experiences, organizations can adapt policies and prevention methods to strengthen their overall safety protocols. Involve employees in the analysis process by encouraging them to provide insights and suggestions for improvement.
Build resilience against workplace violence
Preventing workplace violence is an imperative responsibility for employers. By implementing preventive measures such as comprehensive policies, training programs, effective reporting systems, security measures, regular risk assessments, communication channels, and maintaining a healthy work environment, organizations can significantly reduce the risk of workplace violence.
It is vital to continuously evaluate and improve preventive strategies to ensure the ongoing safety and well-being of employees. Together, we can create workplaces where employees feel protected, respected, and can thrive without the fear of violence. By prioritizing safe environments, employers demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being and create a foundation for a harmonious and productive workplace.
For more specific information on active shooter preparedness, download this year’s, “2023 Active Shooter Preparedness Report”. Learn from over 800 organizations on this important topic and how to do better to keep our people safe and organizations running.