Emergency Notification Systems and Crisis Communication – Blog

Cassie Jackson

Cassie Jackson

Recent Posts

The Clery Act in a Virtual World

We recently teamed up with the safety experts at Margolis Healy to present “Clery Act Compliance: Risk and the Current Environment.” The webinar examined the Clery Act, reviewed its history, structure, and best practices for compliance, as well as its enforcement in a world of virtual learning.

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Emergency Communications & Notifications, Emergency Planning & Preparation

Cassie Jackson

Lessons from Active Shooter Situations in Pop Culture

 

Popular depictions of school shootings have become more frequent as campuses have seen an increase in active shooter scenarios in the past decade. The first popular TV show to tackle the issue was Glee in the episode "Shooting Star." Aired in 2013, only a few months after the Sandy Hook shooting, the episode was controversial and derided as insensitive. 

 

Shooting Star illustrates what lock downs shouldn’t be. The episode’s premise is that two shots are fired within William McKinley High School during classes, initiating a lock down. It is unclear as to whether or not there is an individual actively engaged in an attack on the campus. Protagonists huddle inside the glee room, bathroom stalls, and outside the building, spending hours of evacuation calling their friends and issuing dramatic farewells. The next day, local law enforcement searches the school and lead students through rigorous screening to enter the building, but the fear of an armed student unsettles everyone. Eventually, it is revealed that the shots were fired accidentally by a girl who brought her father’s firearm to school without the intention to harm anyone. 

 

Even though Glee’s dramatic rendition is fictional, similar school shootings cases of active shooters have occurred across the country. Even when no students are harmed, the realization that school is no longer safe takes a mental toll. Drawing some key lessons from Shooting Star and where McKinley High failed can help address real life active shooter scenarios in the future. 

 

The primary concern with McKinley High’s response was the absence of any alarm or warning of danger on campus. Everyone seems to hear the shots and run for cover, but in reality many students would be in the dark without an announcement. Even the students who heard the shots debate whether they were from a gun. 

 

The depiction of a school shooting was realistic in that some students are forced to take shelter in bathrooms and less secure places. These students are especially at risk because they are relatively exposed and cut off from information. Solo, they are unaware if the shooter has entered the building, if it is safe to leave, or if the situation has been resolved. If there was really an aggressor attempting to kill victims with a random method of selection, they would be in more danger than their classmates behind locked doors. 

 

To its credit, Shooting Star highlights how lock downs have impacts beyond students stuck in schools, as those who have been evacuated outside search frantically for their friends. Many of the protagonists confined inside the school to try to be heroes, leaving the glee room to look for their missing classmates with a false sense of confidence as the silence after the gun shots drags on, even as law enforcement officers and SWAT teams sweep the building. 

 

The most important lesson and the most impactful illustration the episode offers is how the students reach out to teachers, friends, classmates, and loved ones. Teachers ask them to get the word out by calling, texting, and posting on social media. Kids convey most of the information to each other and are even responsible for calling the police. Students looking for missing friends who are away from their phones fear for their safety, and most information that comes in is hearsay and unreliable, causing greater panic. 

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Emergency Communications & Notifications

Cassie Jackson

Facing the Storm: Preparing for Severe Weather on Campus

Omnilert recently partnered with Campus Safety Magazine on the webinar, “Severe Weather Preparedness: Educating Students, Staff and Faculty on Proper Responses,” featuring meteorologist Dr. Kevin Kloesel from the University of Oklahoma. The webinar raised questions about weather safety practices on university campuses and highlighted how administrators can fulfill their duty of care to ensure the safety of students and visitors. Preparedness for severe weather requires foresight, planning, education, and demands improvement on campuses.

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Critical Insights, Emergency Communications & Notifications, Selecting the Right ENS, Emergency Planning & Preparation

Cassie Jackson

Campus Safety: Lessons from Columbine and Active Shooter Situations

We recently partnered with Campus Safety Magazine on a webinar entitled, “Post-Columbine: Top Lessons Learned About Active Killer Situations,” featuring a presentation from Chief Stephen Lopez of the New Mexico State University Police Department. The webinar examined our changing responses to the threat of active shooters on campuses and aimed to explain the evolution of law enforcement practices, education safety procedures, and community responsibility since the Columbine tragedy in 1999. The ensuing nationwide discussion on campus safety and security led to a host of reforms and changes in practice to keep students and communities safe today and into the future. 

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Critical Insights, Emergency Planning & Preparation

Cassie Jackson

Yes! Send Me Vital Industry News & Updates

Active Shooter Emergency Preparedness Guide - During

No organization wants to think about the day that an emergency might happen at their facilities, especially an active shooter crisis, but it is something that each organization must prepare. Not only is mass emergency preparation a legal obligation, but most would argue that it is a moral one. You want to keep your people informed and out of harm’s way. If there’s an emergency, people expect to be notified and provided the guidance to remain safe. There are many alerts that we have grown accustomed to receiving such as weather alerts, Amber or Silver Alerts, or even local emergency alerts. So, if there’s an active shooter emergency in the vicinity, people expect to be alerted in a similar fashion.

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Emergency Communications & Notifications, Emergency Planning & Preparation, Automating Emergency Notifications

Juliet Hulse 

Triggering Severe Weather Safety Notifications Through Omnilert Scenarios

Severe weather can happen at any time. Depending on the season and your location, weather threats can range from thunderstorms and tornadic activity to hurricanes, Nor’easters, or even a wintry mix. Having emergency communication plans and an automated method of distributing said communications in place helps ensure you and the people you are responsible for are kept safe and informed during severe weather season - no matter which season.

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Emergency Communications & Notifications, Emergency Planning & Preparation

Andy Hausman 

Off-Campus Timely Warnings - An Explanation

Of all the requirements of the Jeanne Clery Act college and university communities most frequently associate it with the timely warning. As an original part of the 1990 law timely warnings have fundamentally changed how students and employees learn about campus crime in a way that is now firmly enshrined in their cultures as it is what they most frequently see.

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Emergency Communications & Notifications, Emergency Planning & Preparation, Automating Emergency Notifications

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