North Carolina Has Taken School Safety Digital
With the creation of two web-based apps, North Carolina is making it easier for schools to not only put together risk management plans but also communicate pertinent details to emergency responders.
Thursday's tragedy in Santa Clarita, California, quickly followed by the shooting of a small child at a Pleasantville, New Jersey, high school football game, is just the latest stark reminder that safety in our schools cannot be taken for granted.
"In this country," wrote EMS expert Rob Lawrence in his analysis of Santa Clarita's emergency response, "next time is not a matter of if, but when, and those responsible for the education and safety of our next generation must prepare all to deal with an on-site shooter."
Indeed, as the below graph from the K-12 Shooting Database shows, this is a sad reality that every community must be prepared for.
Since 2015, North Carolina has been doing just that.
That's when the state passed a law requiring the creation of two applications to help school officials and emergency responders more efficiently prepare for and, when necessary, mitigate a variety of hazards and threats.
The School Risk Management Plan (SRMP) application is a wizard-style tool that guides school officials through the creation of digital risk management plans. The web-based app facilitates the documentation of "information regarding a school's profile, pertinent assets and vulnerabilities," the project's website explains. This data is then used to put together comprehensive procedures to be followed in the case of various emergencies.
"Planning for safety was not something [teachers and administrators] really knew how to do,” Hope Morgan, a technology official with the N.C. Dept. of Public Safety, recently told StateScoop, which made the tool an invaluable addition to staff safety training.
The School Emergency Response Application (SERA) then takes this information -- which includes detailed schematics of nearly 3,000 schools in the state -- and makes it easily accessible to law enforcement and emergency managers so that first responders can be safely and efficiently directed.
Schools, higher education, emergency management, first responders and fire — if we can get them all in one room, even for an hour each year, then we can do the simple things,” Morgan said.
The apps help make this more of a reality, helping North Carolina's teachers, school administrators and staff, students and parents feel a little more at ease in the process.