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Emergency Communications System

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SchoolSAFE is a two-way-radio-based system that allows for seamless communications interoperability between school radio systems and far more advanced public safety radio systems.

Problem: Lack of School Interoperability with Public Safety

When there is an incident at a school, in many cases the police will take a 9-1-1 call from the school and get the location of the incident. However, once responders are on their way they cannot track how the incident is developing because there is no clear open line of communication with the school. As a result, when they arrive on the scene, valuable time is lost finding the exact location of the incident and assessing the situation to gain control.

There is often a need for the principal, administrator, security staff, or other school personnel to talk directly to the emergency responders before their arrival and throughout the response. Time-critical and crucial information from positions within the school could help responders proceed with the best equipment and course of action to manage the incident. When every second counts, this advantage could translate into reducing injury and property damage, and even saving lives.

Solution: On-Demand Reliable Radio Bridging with First Responders

SchoolSAFE provides a new method of bridging radios together to allow school personnel carrying radios within the school to talk directly with first responders.

Each patrol car, fire engine, and ambulance has a two-way radio installed to allow rapid communications between these first responders and their dispatch center or Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP), where 9-1-1 calls are answered. The responders depend on these two-way radios to control and coordinate their safety and lifesaving actions. Most officers and firemen also carry a handheld radio on the same radio system.

SchoolSAFE is the exact same type of public safety radio, assembled together with a second radio associated with the communications used within the school. Using SchoolSAFE's digital signaling, or bridging technology, school personnel located near the incident can provide real-time information about the situation to assist rapid and succinct actions by the first responders.

Not only can the school call the public safety field units on the radio, but the PSAP dispatch or responders can also use SchoolSAFE to contact the school to alert them to lock their doors or take other emergency precautions based on incidents outside the school. This solves the problem of unanswered phone calls or other failures, and provides a way for the school safety team to maintain contact with community responders. At any time after the school places a 9-1-1 call, the first responders can be updated on the reported incident.

How SchoolSAFE is Manufactured and Installed

SchoolSAFE is designed to function as an emergency or special event bridge between the school's communication system and the local public safety agency that is responsible to take action and control the incident. SchoolSAFE manufacturing provides programming for the radio equipment to assure compatibility with the public safety and school communications systems, deliver the highest quality sound and transmission, and allow for real-time control of the communications channel by qualified personnel.

SchoolSAFE installation begins with helping schools enter into memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with community reponders about how they will coordinate their response to school incidents, and which communications channels and frequencies will be used. The SchoolSAFE system is then installed and configured in line with the MOUs. Installation also involves training for school and public safety personnel in the operation of the device and in conducting joint tabletop and full-scale exercises. SchoolSAFE maintains a library of model policies and procedures, exercise scenarios, and exercise evaluation guides that are periodically reviewed by the school safety community and made freely available to school and public safety administrators.

Technology: Top-Echelon Equipment that is Simple, Flexible and Reliable

SchoolSAFE bridging is based on industry standard devices that are time-tested and reliable. Complex public safety radio systems regularly use similar equipment for temporary patches to outside radio systems. However, SchoolSAFE Communications equipment is permanently installed and integrated into school and public safety data networks to allow remote activation and deactivation, and select personnel alerting. Modern trunking or conventional radio systems used by public safety can be easily accommodated, connecting or bridging to school radios to allow continual communications in the manner preferred by professional responders.

The SchoolSAFE Advanced Digital Interpreter (ADI) equipment is required to meet APCO 25 Standards for Public Safety. For agencies using APCO 25, crucial tones are generated on the system that can only be heard on the school radios through the use of the SchoolSAFE ADI unit. Vital communications can be missed if the crucial tones cannot be heard.

Public safety agencies will not allow permanent bridging activity to overload their system under normal circumstances, yet with SchoolSAFE Remote Activation and Deactivation Technology they can allow this bridging on-demand to satisfy emergency response.

Technology to prevent unauthorized use and activation is part of the package. The training included with installation will define how to invoke the SchoolSAFE ADI and disable it when necessary. Package documentation describes how to schedule regular tests and exercises to insure the equipment is ready for an emergency situation.

The involvement of public safety officials in the school's community is paramount to making the system functional and reliable. With their involvement, radio interoperability is recognized as the enabling technology for incident command and important to the safety of students and school staff. SchoolSAFE demonstrations and drills provide a cooperative environment for valuable orientation meetings between school management and local responders.

The SchoolSAFE solution is flexible. Radios can be provided for complex or simple radio systems, and the SchoolSAFE radios and ADI are programmed for each school to preclude interference to either system while following FCC rules and regulations.

Remote Activation

SchoolSAFE Communications with remote activation software and hardware gives SchoolSAFE an IP address and a presence inside both school and PSAP data networks. With this powerful yet simple activation and deactivation tool, the audio communications is instantly available for rapid response or for other applications such as audio recording or situation playback. These expansions take the burden off the school and PSAP staff so they can focus on coordinated incident response.

Enhanced Notification

SchoolSAFE Communications with Enhanced Notification Software works in conjunction with Remote Activation to inform all persons who need to know that a SchoolSAFE event is in progress. Enhanced notification provides awareness to those who need it so the utmost command and control over the school's and first responder resources can be attained and the situation can be handled most effectively.

Upgrade and Expansion Capabilities

Expansion modules can be easily added in the future. As radio systems change, the SchoolSAFE radios can be easily replaced, reprogrammed, or modified to accommodate those changes.

Also, SchoolSAFE can be upgraded to include an additional channel for daily use by school security and administrative personnel. This is an important feature for two key reasons. First, the school personnel can more frequently practice incident command procedures using the same radios they would use in a major emergency. Second, throughout a multi-agency crisis response, they can maintain their own open line of communication among themselves while bridging to professional responders as needed.

 

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