Why Mass Notification Tools Should be Part of Your Reunification Strategy

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Mass Notification for Reunification

Many organizations worry about what they are going to do should an emergency event take place. This is a challenging process that involves careful planning to ensure that an organization develops the best possible response to whatever crisis they may experience. However, the aftermath of an event can be just as challenging to plan for. For K12 schools, and some other organizations, that can include determining a reunification strategy that best reconnects those within your organization with those outside of it that may be concerned about their safety.

This topic was covered in Campus Safety Magazine by Guy Bliesner, a School Security Analyst for the Idaho Office of School Safety and Security. In his article, he explains that reunification strategies do not just need to be a part of active shooter situations. In fact, “…not all or even most school reunifications are precipitated by a school shooting…Any number of issues, from a power outage or gas leak to severe weather may require a school closure.”

In the article, Bliesner talks about lessons learned from a recent unification drill held in Idaho he participated in. We recommend reading the article in full if your organization is looking for help developing a reunification strategy. For the purposes of this blog post, we’ll focus on how a mass notification system can aid your organization’s reunification strategy.

Plan Ahead

Mass notification systems can help you reach large groups of people quickly via a variety of formats to help keep people safe and informed during an emergency event. While many organizations use this to communicate with people within their organization to coordinate safety efforts, by setting up separate groups for those outside your organization, you can also help facilitate reunification strategies.

For K12 schools this would mean creating a group for parents and guardians that can be reached via SMS text, email, and phone calls. Ideally, your reunification process will be documented and communicated well ahead of any emergency, such as at the beginning of the school year. However, during chaotic situations, people cannot be expected to remember information that was shared weeks or months ago. Leveraging mass notification can provide in-the-moment updates to inform parents about an ongoing situation, and where they should go to reunite with their children.

This can help divert parents who may instinctually want to come to the school. Having people rush to the school can cause traffic issues for first responders trying to assist with managing the situation and can put more people in harm’s way. Mass notifications can help remind people that reunification takes place in a separate building and that is where they should go.

Reduce Confusion and Worry

In addition to instructing parents on where to go, school leaders can help reduce confusion and worry by using mass notification to share updates about the ongoing situation. Initial alerting can let people know an event is taking place, and subsequent messages can offer more details that help parents understand the severity of the situation, how the school is responding, and when they can expect more information. Using officials channels regularly also helps combat speculation and rumors from social media and other unreliable sources.

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This can be difficult to manage in real-time, so it may be beneficial for schools to have a designated staff member who can manage updates to parents while other school officials focus on managing the situation at the school level.

Reminding Students

Of course, it’s not just parents who may need reminders about where to go and what to do following a school emergency. Students within the school may need reminders and instructions about what to do once a situation has resolved. Following an “All Clear” message, school officials can use mass notification tools to broadcast messages to on-premises devices within a school building like IP speakers, IP phones, digital signage, desktop computers and more. This can ease student worries and let them know that they will soon be reunited with their parents.

Mass notification can be deployed at multiple levels to reach the right groups of people with pertinent information to help with the reunification process.

Learn more about planning for school safety throughout the year

 

 

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