All schools strive to provide a safe learning environment, but recent figures released by NASUWT paint a picture of increasing violence towards teachers, with roughly half experiencing attacks on a weekly basis, whilst serious injuries have risen by over twenty five percent in just a few years. Physical altercations between students are also becoming more common in addition to a rise in the number of weapons being confiscated from pupils and some areas seeing an increase in gang-related violence in their schools. Whilst school stabbings are thankfully a rare occurrence, recent headlines outlining trends in youth violence have given many educators pause for thought when it comes to evaluating their own institutions' procedures and tools for dealing with such emergencies. Fortunately, technology can be used to massively upgrade the ability of staff to respond to such an incident and take appropriate measures.
In the event of a student or teacher sustaining a serious injury such as those caused by a knife, it is critical that they receive first aid as soon as possible, as this can prevent serious wounds from becoming life-threatening. All schools have multiple members of qualified first aid staff. But this training is useless if they cannot get to an emergency quickly and with the right equipment. Instead of using inefficient and slow methods like trying to make a telephone call or sending a runner to raise the alarm, a teacher in a classroom where a stabbing has taken place can instead use purpose-built software to initiate a response.
A critical alarm management system links staff member together via the use of a shared app on smart devices (like mobiles or tablets), which require just a few button pushes to send an alarm notification to other staff. Once raised, the system doesn't require human input to initiate the response; instead sending out immediate notifications to all relevant staff. In the event of an incident like a stabbing, the critical alarm management system can even notify senior staff automatically if required. By using an automated method, we can cut down on the possibility for human error to have an impact and also speed up the rate at which vital aid can be delivered.
The app can be accessed and updated by all authorised staff, allowing teachers to see at a glance what is going on. This means that managers are better able to coordinate a response and don't have to worry about constantly having to keep other employees up to date on events. As all interactions with the system are logged, school administrators can go back at a later date to examine events to determine how staff responses could be improved in the future. This data can also be of great help to investigators when trying to determine exactly what occurred during a given incident. Another essential feature of the critical alarm management system is the fact that if staff do not respond to a notification of a high-priority incident taking place within a set period of time, the alarm can then be escalated to other staff members, ensuring that a response is mounted no matter what.
However, whilst it is useful to be able to easily log an alarm and add detail for other staff to see, a situation as serious as a stabbing may not permit the staff members present to use their devices. This can be because they are trying to restrain the attacker or because they are attempting to reason with them and defuse the situation before it escalates any further. Not provoking the attacker is critical, as teachers should not do anything to endanger either themselves or more students. In situations like these, small, concealable devices can still be used to summon help quickly without alerting the violent individual. These panic button-esque devices are called 'mobile personal emergency response devices' (abbreviated as MPERS) and can be activated in just a few short seconds, bringing all available staff to the user's location. If a wearable device is not wanted, then certain classrooms can be equipped with hidden MPERS buttons that can be used by any member of staff in an emergency.
Note that the use of the above systems is not confined to extreme emergency situations such as stabbings. ANT have designed their safety software and devices to be of use throughout the day to day operations of a school and have successfully adopted this approach across a range of industries. The critical alarm management system for instance, can be used to track a variety of time-sensitive tasks and projects, ranging from maintenance issues to scheduled sessions involving specialist staff. This gives managers a centralised platform that they can easily refer to in order to efficiently run their departments and eliminates much of the hassle that can be generated when following up on complex jobs where multiple parties are involved.
Also, devices such as MPERS can be of great use to educators working with children with special needs, who may require a way to quickly summon assistance without placing their students under undue stress. Alongside these products, there are also regular smart devices that have been upgraded to better withstand damage and be easier to handle in adverse conditions. These can be of great use to maintenance staff who require robust equipment and may enjoy the host of automated safety features packed into these enhanced smartphones and tablets.
ANT manufactures a range of health and safety products that can be customised to provide a tailor-made solution that can fit any budget or set of organisational needs. By seamlessly integrating with existing training and working methods, these products result in minimal disturbance to routines, making them both unobtrusive and easy to train staff to use. This makes it far easier for employees to effectively mount a response in case of an event like a stabbing.
Another distinct advantage is the bolt-on nature of these upgrades, which both allows the ANT products to take advantage of existing infrastructure and be installed quickly and which allows them to be expanded upon in the future if managers should so decide. This combination of flexibility, ease of use and potency means that with a robust alarm system in place, teachers can focus on educating their students while knowing that even in the event of an extreme emergency, their safety is in good hands.