Our business development manager, Tom Batty, was recently asked by a local school to give them some advice on how to improve their lockdown procedure and protection. His findings proved to be extremely useful to them, going as far as to say that “we chose SS Systems because their investigations were very thorough”.
If you work in schools you will be aware of how important the subject of “safeguarding” is and the recommendation by the National Association of Head Teachers to “consider the need for such procedures as a sensible and proportionate response to any potential threat to the safety of staff and pupils at the school”.
Thankfully, a lockdown will hopefully be a rare occurrence, but as one of our own members of staff with a child at a local school learned just a few months ago, they do happen. When someone comes into the school grounds threatening or even appearing to want to hurt pupils, the wellbeing of those children could be dependent on the effectiveness of a lockdown procedure.
Tom has written a brief guide on the types of things to consider when considering how to implement your lockdown procedures and when surveying around your school premises.
The three most important things to consider is how effectively you can:
1. Raise the alarm to let pupils and staff know about the lockdown (and how to differentiate that from other types of alert)
2. Control access in and out of the building
3. Visually check that all pupils and staff are safe
4. Communicate effectively with staff and parents during the lockdown period
The way we approach our own surveys is to go through a series of questions to make sure every angle is covered.
1. Existing systems – what are they capable of providing with regards to a lockdown procedure?
2. Consider what type of alerts you can raise via your intruder alarm or public-address system. Will they enable you to notify all pupils and staff that they need to return to/stay in the building until further notification is received?
3. Will the lockdown co-ordinator be able to easily communicate with relevant members of staff and emergency authorities throughout the lockdown?
4. How easy is it for staff members to quickly see & confirm that all pupils and staff are accounted for during the lockdown?
5. Can the exit doors and external gates be controlled internally, and can it be confirmed visually that authorised personnel are contained within the building and that unauthorised people are kept out?
6. How effectively can you keep parents/authorities informed about the situation?
7. What technology is available to the school which could easily be incorporated into existing systems in order to boost the management of the lockdown procedures?
Intruder and fire alarms come equipped with a panic button facility. This is potentially something that can be used in case of a lockdown. With a number of modern systems, it can actually be programmed so that the alert for coming into the building is completely different to that sounded when people need to exit the building.
The modern access control systems can be used to physically see who is at the perimeter of the grounds prior to allowing entry, and enable someone situated inside the building to control the gates.
In order to do that, the school would need to install maglocks on each external door/gate so they can be linked to the internal access control system, alongside video surveillance on external gates/access.
Such systems can be linked to things such as CCTV and intruder/fire alarms to provide a more integrated solution. When digital systems are installed, an alert via one system can be used to trigger a response in another. In this instance, for example, if the intruder system is triggered via the lockdown panic button then it could be programmed into the system that all external doors are locked after a certain length of time (depending on the type of systems installed of course) if that was required.
CCTV is a great way of both alerting personnel about intruders and for helping staff monitor the ongoing situation and ensuring that people are kept safe.
Again, digital CCTV systems can be linked to access control and intruder/fire alarms to provide a more complete solution.
There are roll call systems that can also be linked to the fire and security systems which make it easy to account for staff and pupils. Click here to read a blog about one particular solution and how it can help.
A voice alarm system (or public-address system) can prove beneficial in the case of a lockdown, helping you to give clear directions to people in the building, sound out pre-recorded customised messages depending on the type of situation and to keep people informed.
When auditing your lockdown procedure, it is important to look at all aspects and to consider how the systems and technology you have available to you work together to help you achieve your objectives.
At SS Systems we have installed a number of complex solutions for schools and other buildings with very specific requirements.
If you ever need any help or advice about how your fire and security systems can benefit your school, then please feel free to get in touch. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org or you can ring the office on 03300 417170.
Image provided courtesy of Randy Assell.