Friday March 24, 2017

Is Your Campus Prepared for an Emergency?

Of course, we all hope that we never have to face a natural disaster, or worse yet, an active shooter situation, but would our campus - whether an educational center or a commercial enterprise - be ready in the event of an emergency?

Sadly, both the threat of violent attacks and natural disasters as well as other types of emergencies have increased in recent years. 

According to reports from the FBI, there were 20 active shooter incidents each year in 2014 and 2015, an increase from 17 in 2013. And a 14-year study from 2000-2013 tragically revealed that these active shooter incidents have more than doubled, from an annual average of 6.4 to 16.4 during the time period of the study. This 14-year study also showed that “70% of the incidents occurred in either a commerce/business or educational environment.” Natural disasters have also increased dramatically. “There were three times as many natural disasters from 2000 through 2009 as there were from 1980 through 1989,” reported the New England Journal of Medicine, and they added that the scale of these disasters has also expanded.

Thus, being prepared for an emergency has never been more important. So, what can you to ensure that your institution or business is prepared for a variety of situations?

Make a plan, review it, and train.

The first step would be to make sure you have an emergency response plan in place and then to regularly review and update that plan. “Plans should include evacuation, sheltering in place and lockdown as well as plans for other types of threats identified during the risk assessment,reported the Department of Homeland Security. Also included in this preparedness program would be plans for resource management, crisis communication, and training. Visit the federal government’s emergency preparedness website at  https://www.ready.gov/make-a-plan for more information.

This emergency plan should be regularly reviewed and updated as changes in the campus or business arise. Often, this includes reevaluating where potential threats could develop. Experts suggest conducting a risk assessment, looking at what type of activity occurs in the building on a daily basis, what role the location of a building plays in its appeal to possible attackers and where the occupants of the building travel,” an article on FacilitiesNet noted.

Employees and students should also be well-trained, not only on what to do in the event of an emergency, but also on how to be watchful of suspicious activity. They need to understand what to look for and what to report.

Keep your security up-to-date.

An up-to-date security system is vital for ensuring that students and employees remain safe. Today more is needed than just a simple alarm system. Maintaining access control in certain areas and at various times can help to secure the campus and prevent attackers from easily gaining entry. Access control systems can be as complicated or as simple as your organization needs and can include multi-level access, biometric readers, partitioned admin rights, emergency lockdown, and more.

Securing areas that might initially be overlooked is also important for safety in today’s world. Upgrading CCTV cameras and making sure there are enough cameras to cover all areas, including in backdoor/loading areas or in parking lots, can help spot burglars or attackers before they try to gain entry and better identify them. Surveillance systems are now more cost-effective than ever while also having more features such as remote viewing.

Taking practical security measures around your facilities can also do much to make it safer. These practical measures include improving the lighting in areas around the building such as in alleyways or in the parking lot. Keeping the buildings well-lit at night, even when it is not occupied, can help prevent a break-in. 

 

Have an integrated ECS in place. 

An emergency communication system (ECS), also known as a mass notification system (MNS), is a must for every campus, whether a school or business. An ECS will send up-to-the-minute emergency information in the form of prerecorded digital messages out across a variety of communication platforms so that everyone in the affected area is notified immediately. These emergency messages can be sent out to every individual enrolled in the system, whether across the city, state, or around the world. Digital messages can be broadcast through interior and exterior sounding devices, digital displays, LED signs, email, text, and more. Different areas of a campus can be sent specific instructions depending, for instance, whether occupants need to remain inside or evacuate.

An ECS helps protect employees and students by giving them alerts and safety instructions in a variety of emergency situations including severe weather, fires, chemical or gas leaks, and intruders. With the increase of these types of situations, it’s imperative that really all facilities, whether large or small, consider implementing an emergency communication system to protect employees and customers.

The Tulsa and Oklahoma City security system experts at Mac Systems can help you assess your security and life safety risks and can design a custom system to meet the specific needs of your campus. We can design, install, and service all aspects of your security system including access control, CCTV surveillance, wireless alarm monitoring, and mass notification systems. Ensure your campus is fully prepared in the event of any type of emergency with help from Mac Systems.