Lockdown Alert

Lockdown Alert

School officials want students and staff to feel safe

All schools in North Carolina have been mandated to successfully install and deploy a panic- lockdown button that links to law enforcement. Before that, Most schools had a device which had to be pulled to send the alarm. The Sielox Crisis Alert Status System offers schools the ability to inconspicuously alert—and communicate— if the need arises.

Onslow County School System in North Carolina was following a state law that required them to install a panic-lockdown device that would notify law enforcement when there was an emergency in any of the schools within the district. Some of the emergencies would include medical, missing student, a disturbance, and a quick call for help in the event of a shooter on campus.

School officials wanted to do more than meet the mandated plans and drills, so they looked for a solution that would work today and well into the future.

“We want students to come to school and feel safe, and we want to save lives should a crisis arise; that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing,” said Dusty Rhodes, director of safety and security at Onslow County School System.

On Aug. 6, 2014, school principals were introduced to Sielox Crisis Alert Status System, which was being installed throughout the district. Onslow County School officials believe they are the first in the state to have such a system.

“Getting a handle on crisis situations in our schools is on the mind of every student, parent, educator and law enforcement official,” said John MacKeil, who is a regional sales manager at Sielox LLC. “Sielox Class is secure, easy to install, and operates as a standalone or integrated system. You simply add it to your existing network. This scalable, flexible solution for crisis management provides real-time visibility— when every second counts—and protects what we value most.”

When the Sielox solution was introduced, school officials were quick to react, calling upon their integrator, North Carolina Sound in Goldsboro. North Carolina Sound specializes in the K-12 and higher education market, and they are an engineered system dealer delivering full integration for any system a school may need.

The Sielox Class system is perfect for the education market. In addition to providing real-time information onsite, it also communicates with emergency staff in any crisis response situation. The software system provides critical situational awareness benefits to first responders with a color-coded message alert that is sent to first responders as well as administrators throughout the network. Law enforcement and first responders are able to see dynamic floor plans in real-time, with accurate updates automatically displayed on a cell phone, tablet, or patrol car laptop.

“Sielox LLC is excited to work with our select business partner, North Carolina Sound, to assist Onslow County Schools as they deploy Sielox class throughout their 37 schools,” MacKeil said.

Features of the system include text and email alerts to law enforcement, school officials, and first responders, as well as two-way chat between classroom and responders, and interface paging and mass notification systems using AC-1700 outputs to trigger preprogrammed announcements and messages.

Sielox Class provides critical situational awareness that benefits first responders with real-time states updates to aid in response and deployment. This allows first responders to arrive at the scene with knowledge of what is happening.

“It is automating an evacuation plan in response to a crisis situation,” said Gary Hinton of North Caroline Sound. “The system is automating the FEMA systems of the red/green cards. It creates a graphical map for law enforcement to respond quickly to areas in the school instead of walking blind and not knowing where the crisis is.”

Following the 1999 school shooting tragedy at Columbine, some schools chose to follow the FEMA red/green procedure. In 2012, Sielox Class was developed to expand communication and awareness during critical situations. The Sielox system works with just the push of a button from a teacher or administrator’s computer, smartphone, tablet, or any device that can tap into their browser-based system, which when deployed, puts the school into the lockdown mode. Communication between schools officials, teachers, and law enforcement is handled silently, and in real time. Sielox Class works efficiently with digital system maps with a red square on a digital grid of each school, showing where a crisis originated.

Under the old system, classroom teachers would have to place a red or green card in the window or in the door. Teachers are then exposed. With the new system, Rhodes said the door is locked, and they can hide in the closet with the laptop.

“They’ve never even picked up the phone and law enforcement is on the way,” Rhodes said.

Funded by $230,000 in grants and school funds, the system has installed in all 37 Onslow County Schools.

This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Security Today.

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