Sierra Sands Unified School District (SSUSD)Bryan Auld Superintendent of Human Resources– Student and staff safety is a priority for the Sierra Sands Unified School District. As such, the SSUSD administration continually endeavors to enhance the District’s safety equipment and protocols. Over several decades of research and observations, leading safety experts agree that in an emergency, there are two critical components to an effective response: 1. response time (the length of time it takes for assistance to arrive) and 2. clearly established response protocols (how staff and students should respond in an emergency). SSUSD leadership spent much of last spring and the summer engaged in work to enhance the District’s ability to do those two critical things most effectively: 1. Significantly improve response time and 2. adopt clear and effective response protocols. We are excited to announce that we have begun implementation of two new safety initiatives, CENTEGIX CrisisAlert™ solution and the “I Love U Guys” Foundation’s Standard Response Protocol. With these two new initiatives, student and staff safety has been significantly improved.
The CENTEGIX CrisisAlert™ solution has been fully implemented at each of our District school sites and most of our auxiliary sites. The equipment that was installed creates a “mesh parameter” that acts in the same way as Blue Tooth technology. Each employee has been issued a personal device that empowers them to easily and discretely activate an alert that they need assistance. When an employee activates an alert, school site administration, School Resource Officers, and several District administrators receive a push notification through a smartphone app. The app will pull up a map of the site and will tell the “responders” exactly who activated the alert and where they are on campus. The parameter of the coverage stretches from “fence to fence” such that the alert system also works out on the playgrounds, athletic fields, and parking lots. However, once the employee leaves the parameter (leaves the site), the personal device is no longer connected. The CENTEGIX CrisisAlert™ solution was selected specifically because it does not require a Wi-Fi or Cellular connection and because it does not act as a GPS locator. This allows the District to implement the solution without compromising our own network and it does not require staff to download a smartphone app either.
The “I Love U Guys” Foundation offers an industry standard through its programs, training, and briefings. As is stated on the Foundation’s website, “The ‘I Love U Guys’ Foundation’s programs for crisis response and post-crisis reunification are used in more than 45,000 schools, districts, departments, agencies, organizations, and communities around the world.” It goes on to say, “They (the programs) are created through the research-based best practices of school administrators, psychologists, public space safety experts, families, and first responders.” Although SSUSD utilizes several of the services offered by the Foundation, we have formally adopted their “Standard Response Protocol” District-wide. At every District site and with all students and staff, the exact same response protocol is utilized, providing for consistency and common understanding. There are five different response protocols: Hold, Secure, Lockdown, Evacuate, and Shelter. Each protocol is specifically designed for a response to a specific type of emergency. For example, if an employee or student has a medical emergency, the “Hold” response would be activated. Staff and students would then know that they are to remain in the classrooms but that regular classroom activities can continue. The reason they are holding is so first responders have quicker access to the location where the emergency occurred. However, in a Hold standard response protocol, staff and students would also know that there is no threat to their safety on campus. Hence, there is no reason to respond as they would in a Lockdown. Each school site regularly conducts emergency response drills where they practice each of the protocols so that they are familiar in case of a true emergency.
According to Dr. April Moore, SSUSD Superintendent, “Both initiatives have been very well received by staff and our colleagues at the Ridgecrest Police Department and are being successfully implemented across our district. The response has been so positive that we have received inquiries from other schools and organizations within the community requesting information about both protocols. We are currently working to coordinate a presentation where leaders throughout the community will be invited to hear about both the CENTEGIX CrisisAlert™ and the ‘I Love U Guys’ Foundation’s ‘Standa rd Response Protocol.’ The vision is that both of these safety resources might become a standard throughout the public spaces in our community.”