8 Mass Notification Features to Use During an Active Shooter Situation


8 Active Shooter Features

When an active shooter situation occurs, your first priority should be protecting your people. Without the right tools and plans in place, this can be a chaotic and inefficient process. Active shooter preparation requires training, strong communication, and technology that can help you keep people safe. That’s why many organizations implement mass notification systems to help communicate alerts and instructions to all of their people. However, mass notification systems have evolved beyond simple mass paging solutions. They have become sophisticated solutions that leverage cutting-edge technology to give organizations every advantage during critical events.

Knowing all of the features that can be used and how to best use each one can be a challenging process. Organizations leaders need to coordinate communications to people that are in immediate danger as well as first responders and loved ones who may be looking for information about reunification. Mass notification systems can help with each of these areas. In this blog post, we’ll highlight some of the most useful features a mass notification system can offer to prepare for and manage an active shooter incident.

Panic Buttons

If someone in your organization sees a violent intruder they need a quick and discreet way to alert everyone, while giving themselves the opportunity to get out of harm’s way. Silent panic buttons connected to or configured with a mass notification system offer a simple, one-touch solution for getting the word out. Virtual panic buttons can be configured on IP phones, and physical panic buttons positioned under a desk can be connected to trigger notifications. Messages can then be broadcast with prebuilt messages throughout an entire facility or to a select group of security team members.

911 Alerting

If panic buttons are not in place (and sometimes even if they are), a person’s first instinct may be to call 911 or another emergency number. Mass notification systems can be configured to monitor phones within a building or campus to trigger an alert when 911 is dialed. This helps security personnel and other organization leaders know an event is taking place they need to be aware of. Systems that automatically record and let users listen to calls helps provide much-needed context and can help leaders better direct first responders when they arrive.

Audio Alerts

When an intruder enters your building, audio alerts can be an effective way to have people within your organization stop what they’re doing and begin taking actions to protect themselves from potential harm. IP speakers, IP phones, desktop computers, and more can all be used to deliver tones or audio messages throughout a facility. Messages recorded ahead of time can help minimize panic by delivering clear, calm instructions on the precautions people should be taking.

Surveillance Camera Integration

When a mass notification is triggered it’s important that the right people can accurately assess the situation taking place. That means providing real-time insights so they can make well-informed decisions. Some mass notification systems can integrate with surveillance systems to include a URL to a camera feed in an alert. This can be sent to a safety team that can identify the intruder and then track their movements. This can help inform first responders, and help organizations provide updates to their people on areas to avoid.

Automatic Door Locking

If you can figure out where an armed intruder is, you can also limit the areas they have access to with door access controls integrated into your mass notification system. You can configure particular alerts to lock certain doors within a building, keeping an intruder contained in a certain area. You can also lock doors or particular rooms protecting the people inside. You need to be careful when utilizing this feature during an active shooter event as it may prevent someone from seeking shelter, but automating this process and deploying it properly can save time when an incident occurs.

SMS Text Messages

In addition to audio alerts, SMS text messages are an easy way to alert a large group of people about an active shooter. Using text in addition to audio helps reach more people and makes them aware of a situation in a timely manner. SMS text messages can also help reach people who are remote so they do not enter into a dangerous situation and can be used to communicate reunification plans with loved ones, so they do not interfere with first responders.

Incident Management

Active shooter incidents can be difficult to manage, that’s why connecting your mass notification system to collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex Teams can help gather the right people quickly. Following the distribution of a mass notification, select users can be invited to join a virtual space where they monitor the events as they unfold and make decisions to help resolve the situation.

Police Radio Integration

Some mass notification systems can even integrate directly with police radios to help speed up response times. When a notification goes out, it can be sent directly to a police radio. Officers in the area that receive the message can respond more quickly than waiting for someone at the school to dial 911 and wait for a dispatched to send someone out.

Active shooter incidents are complex situations to prepare for. There is no full-proof, magic solution, and these are just some of the features mass notifications systems offer for safety and alerting. Desktop notifications, digital signage, emails, and more can often also be used to share information. However, with a strong communication plan facilitated by a mass notification system, organizations can be well-suited to handle this or any other kind of crisis they may face.




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