FrontRow Newsroom

Establishing Your School Emergency Operation Plan

20 April 2017|Hannah Olson

FrontRow was in the news yesterday for paving the way for increased school safety with our latest smart microphone emergency-readiness features. The ongoing R&D for making our microphone and AV solutions tools for increasing school safety has led us to great insights as to how schools can approach Emergency Operation Plan readiness.

Many schools use networked systems daily for paging, intercom, and bells. But only in the last several years have they recruited networked technology to support crisis situations where clear communication and speed are critical. As part of an effective Emergency Operation Plan, schools need to support their life-safety systems with communication technologies that help keep staff and students aware, informed, focused, and out of harm’s way.

The communication platform must provide three basic functions:

  1. Activation: Multiple ways for staff to activate an alert
  2. Notification: Redundant ways to inform responders
  3. Response: A suite of effective, automated actions

Possibly the most important factor in designing EPP-ready communication technology is giving schools the power to respond to an emergency at hand. Immediate action paired with clear and concise communication can make all the difference in an emergency. That includes using technology like FrontRow Conductor’s Notifier pop-up app to acknowledge an alert so that teachers know help is on the way.

School staff can then use Notifier to open an intercom channel to the alerting room — either to talk with the teacher or to simply listen in to understand the nature of the problem. If the team members responding to the call for help determine a campus-wide alert is needed, they can trigger one with a single click from the front office, a local computer, or a mobile device.

A Campus Alert can consist of any combination of automated actions including:

  • Pre-recorded audio announcements, customizable by zone, to let students and staff know what is happening and what to do
  • Emails, texts, or PC pop-up messages to off-campus responders, district personnel, and more
  • Control of campus hardware, including door locks, classroom displays and digital signage, hallway strobes, and Beacons on FrontRow AV systems.

Using the teacher microphone – for example, FrontRow SmartIR and Elevate-based Action! microphones– as an alerting device demands special consideration. The ‘panic button’ must also be easy to find in a stressful situation, and the mic signal must be strong enough to get around most obstructions from furniture or people. It’s also important that a mic can trigger an alert in any room (since teachers may be moving, paired devices may be an issue).

Finally, the mic alert must work even if the hardware has gone into an energy-saving sleep mode or if there is an active intercom call or page in progress. Take the opportunity to automate other functions at this stage — for example, recording audio, activating a security camera, or even starting an immediate lockdown!

Getting your communication technology ready for an emergency situation takes planning, but is well within the reach of school personnel. FrontRow application engineers have advised countless schools on finding the best solution to meet a school's unique needs and concerns. Their always happy to help and their support is always complimentary. To connect with an application engineer, click here.