3 min read

Enhancing School Security Through Collaboration with Local First Responders

In today's ever-changing world, school security is a top concern for parents, students, teachers, and administrators. Ensuring the safety and well-being of everyone in our schools is paramount, and one of the most effective ways to achieve this is by partnering with local first responders. As a former Director of Public Safety and a current School District Director of Safety & Security, I want to emphasize the importance of this collaboration and share insights on how to incorporate local first responders into emergency preparedness and training.

The Power of Collaboration

Schools do not stand alone in their response to emergencies or in their preparation for them. While community partners such as the fire department and local law enforcement may be most prominently seen in their response to emergencies, these same organizations play vital roles in supporting planning efforts with school districts to ensure a swift and efficient response in any crisis.

Effective school emergency management planning and the development of a School Emergency Operations Plan (EOP) require a concerted, collaborative effort that encompasses the five mission areas outlined in the National Preparedness Goal: Prevention, Mitigation, Protection, Response, and Recovery. It is important for schools to engage in cooperation with district personnel and local emergency management personnel, and first responders, throughout the planning process. This collaborative approach not only ensures district-level support for a well-crafted school EOP, but also ensures alignment with district, local, and state emergency plans.

Pillars of Collaboration

Certainly there are more than three, but I’d like to focus on three important pillars of this collaboration - communication, training exercises, and technology integration.

  1. Communication - Effective communication forms the foundation of successful partnerships. It is important that educational institutions maintain regular and transparent dialogue with local first responders. Regular meetings and joint training sessions are pivotal for maintaining a strong relationship. Equally important is the timely provision of accurate and up-to-date information to first responders regarding school layout, safety procedures, and key contact points.

  2. Training Exercises - Schools and emergency responders should regularly engage in training drills and exercises so that everyone is well-acquainted with their designated duties and obligations. These drills encompass scenarios such as lockdowns, fire emergencies, evacuations, reunifications, and more. These exercises create a culture of preparedness and help build the muscle memory required for quick and effective responses.

  3. Technology Integration - Incorporating technology into school security enhances the partnership with first responders. Consider implementing security cameras, alarm systems, on-premises mass notification, wearable panic buttons, and two-way communication systems that link directly to local emergency services. These technologies can expedite response times and provide real-time information to first responders, enabling them to make informed decisions.

These security devices necessitate ensuring that both the hardware and software components are not just compatible for optimal utility but are also seamlessly integrated, allowing them to effectively communicate and share data with one another. This underscores the significance of utilizing solutions such as Intrado's Safety Suite for Education.

In conclusion, partnering with local first responders is an indispensable component of a comprehensive school security strategy. By fostering open communication, tailoring emergency plans, conducting regular training exercises, and integrating technology, schools can create a safer environment for students and staff. School safety is a shared responsibility, and collaboration with local first responders is a critical step toward achieving that goal.


Hear more of what Bob has to say regarding school safety here:

 

About Our Guest Author

Bob Erspamer is an Intrado School Safety Advocacy Council Member.

He serves as the Director of Safety & Security for a charter school district based in Arizona with schools in several states. He is responsible for the executive oversight and delivery of safety and security services and programs for all campuses. Previous to this position, he was the Director of Safety & Security with the Harrison School District in Colorado Springs, CO while also serving as a safety and security consultant for the Adams 14 School District in Commerce City, CO.

He has over twenty-five (25) years of law enforcement, safety, and security experience, including the position of Director of Public Safety (chief of police and fire) for the City of Ironwood, MI.

During his career in law enforcement, as well as being POST certified in Michigan and Arizona, he completed multiple law enforcement, security, and safety centric programs. He was also a certified firefighter in Michigan. 

Mr. Erspamer has been trained and is certified in many local, state, and federal courses. He is a current trainer in the Standard Response Protocol (SRP) and a Stop the Bleed instructor. 

Mr. Erspamer states, “Working in school safety and security for the past 10 years has been one of the most challenging and rewarding opportunities of my life.”

Learn more about the Intrado School Safety Advocacy Council here.

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