5 Tips for Successfully Implementing a Duress Alarm System in Your Schools
Umpqua Community College, Sandy Hook Elementary School, Marysville-Pilchuck High School, Seattle Pacific University, Sparks Middle School. Most of us would never have heard of these small schools unless they had made headline news. No school plans to have a serious emergency on campus like an active shooter, but every district today needs to be prepared for the inevitability. One of the most powerful tools you can get to help stop an unfolding emergency and save lives is a duress alarm system. But how can you choose the right one?
1. Determine What Features Best Meet Your District's Needs
Back to school preparedness goes beyond the books and binders and backpacks. Today's preparedness includes getting ready to respond to a variety of potential emergencies. Sick children, serious injuries, and treacherous weather conditions are just a few of the reasons you need a duress alarm system.
There are some features that virtually every school district needs, such as a duress alarm system that is portable and mobile and one that is wireless. But apart from that, you will need to determine what available features and functionality are most important to you. Do you need a system that all of your faculty and staff have access to, or just the administrators? What features do you need to empower users to escalate or prioritize the urgency of alerts and messages? Do you require a means to verify that a message was received? Determine your needs and shop for a system that meets these requirements.
2. Establish What Areas Need Coverage
Emergencies don't always unfold neatly within the office or a classroom. Often, these events begin or play out in parking areas, stairwells, hallways, and other areas outside the normal reach of PA systems and other communications tools. Some schools also have to consider public roads that intersect their campuses, loading docks, and other unusual configurations. Take these situations into consideration when choosing a duress alarm system.
3. Decide Who Needs Access to the System
Who needs to be equipped with and trained on the duress alarm system? Training is essential, but you will also want to acquire a system that is easy and intuitive. Years might pass between when you purchase the system and when it needs to be used, so follow-up training is essential. But a complex system isn't a good option no matter how intelligent your users are. When people are shocked and afraid, even the smartest and best-trained workers can forget how a complicated system operates. Remember the adage, "Keep it simple, silly."
4. Find a Solution That Integrates Well With Existing Systems & Protocols
Will your duress alarm system operate as a stand-alone tool, or will it be a part of an overall security strategy? What other systems must it integrate with? What are the protocols for using the duress alarm system as opposed to the intercom system or other communications systems already in place? A system is only as good as the plans that govern it, so be sure your alarm fits in your current security infrastructure and makes sense within your policy and procedural guidelines.
5. Set a Budget for Your Duress Alarm System
When you're budgeting for math teams and art expos, don't forget to put in the numbers for a good duress alarm system. Fortunately, there are feature-packed systems that don't break the bank. In today's era of tight budgets, you'll have to balance each of the features and functions you need and want with its associated price tag. If the feature isn't worth paying more for, it might have to be eliminated from the system requirements. The good news is, there are feature-packed alarm systems that are extremely affordable, even for budget-strapped school systems. You can request a quote for the TTI system today.
Though the hope is that your system is never used, it will bring comfort and peace to your teachers, administrators, students, and all of their families. In fact, installing a duress alarm system might even deter someone from targeting your schools in the first place.