School safety, an urgent need
Students will soon be returning to classrooms and our concerns should be to provide a safe and protected environment for their learning experience. Over the past couple of years most of the effort for their safety has been focus on legislating new gun control measures to remove the easy access to all types of firearms. According to the Small Arms Survey the United States has over 393 million civilian held firearms. No amount of effective legislation will keep a weapon from an extreme violent perpetrator intent on inflecting serious harm to a confine student body.
The four phases of accepted emergency planning for an active shooter are: mitigation and prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery. This risk assessment should be reviewed once a year.
My suggestion is to develop strong defensive measures and use the current available means to confine and subdue the deadly invasive intruder. In my studies I have read about various products that are now in use in school districts throughout the U.S.
Listed below are a few now available in no order of priority:
l Solid and dependable mass notification system
l Screening hardware for all visitors after classes begin
l Direct link of all surveillance cameras to first responders
l Mantraps in front lobby
l Panic buttons for all teachers and administrators
l Bullet proof glass on all classroom doors
l Automatic deadbolt locks on classroom doors.
l Stun guns for trained staff members need to be designed, manufactured and installed :
l Large secure and hardened space for “Sheltering in Place”
High pressure water or smoke cannons activated by gunfire directed at assailant
l Tear gas or other irritant released by ceiling guns controlled remotely by administration through camera recognition to subdue an active shooter
Develop an app for your smart phone that can alert you immediately to an ongoing emergency within the building and show you your present location. It can then self direct you through verbal and graphic commands to an emergency egress path and to an exit to the outside. Also can display all emergency directives from staff and first responders with locations for outside assembly for student and staff accountability. This app can also be made public for all public occupied buildings as a life safety tool.
There is a need for more life safety methods yet to be developed. The deep concern is school departments may not have the financial resources to implement any that may fit their need. Costs will always be a factor balancing the obvious needs versus the available school funds. There may be federal and state grants that can be used for upgrades to your school security programs.
Student and staff safety is an extremely worthwhile effort and will take some trial and error in order to determine the most effective path to achieve this goal.
Bob Sweeney is president of RES Associates and a Warwick resident.