Wisconsin School District Leverages InformaCast® for Lockdown and Emergency Notification

Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District and InformaCast Mass Notification
Schools & DistrictsCase Studies

The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District (MCPASD) is a large district located in a suburb of Madison, Wisconsin. The district serves approximately 7,000 students in pre-kindergarten through grade 12. The district includes 10 school facilities and three non-school facilities and is geographically dispersed across eight municipalities, three law enforcement agencies, two fire department districts, and two EMS agencies.

The Challenge:

As in many K-12 districts across the nation, MCPASD administrators and staff were increasingly concerned with having a way to protect their students in the event of an emergency. They needed a way to send a coordinated emergency mass notification within individual schools and across the district. However, they also had special challenges, because the district is within the jurisdiction of eight municipalities. This made it hard to coordinate with all of the different first-response agencies in those municipalities. MCPASD also had day-to-day communication challenges. The old system for public address was outdated and not meeting their needs. They needed a way to quickly and easily coordinate their daily activities and respond to internal emergencies.

The Solution:

InformaCast mass notification from Singlewire Software allowed MCPASD to create a centralized, easy-to-use system for targeted communication. It allows MCPASD administrators and staff to lock down their schools, send an emergency notification to key staff when 911 is dialed, call for assistance from classrooms, send district-wide weather alerts, and provide extra protection for their receptionists. It also helps the district streamline its operations, schedule bells, and coordinate communication through advanced paging capabilities.

Keeping Students and Staff Safe

With the safety of students and staff as a top concern at MCPASD they turned to InformaCast to prepare for any kind of emergency they might encounter.

…It provides a consistent means of communicating and informing regarding an incident to, not just our first responders in those multiple agencies, but also to our staff and parents who are in multiple buildings, and our students in multiple buildings,” said Tom Wohlleber, Assistant Superintendent of Business Services at MCPASD.

School Lockdown

InformaCast is one of the fastest ways to send a lockdown message if there’s an intruder in one of the schools. With InformaCast, any staff member can place the school into lockdown by dialing a designated extension on his or her Cisco phone. This triggers the doors in the school to close and lock immediately and sends an alert to all classroom phones.

“In a lockdown, we’re in survival mode, and we’re talking about keeping people safe from danger, and to have that ability for those doors to automatically close is very comforting to staff,” said Robert Schell, Principal at Elm Lawn Elementary in MCPASD.

911/Emergency Call Alert

If there’s a life-safety emergency, like a teacher having a heart attack, InformaCast ensures that he or she receives help as quickly as possible. InformaCast monitors for calls made from a district phone to an emergency number like 911. When the number is dialed, the system sends an automatic alert to the on-site police liaison officer and other important staff members. The alert includes a recording of the call, the time the call was placed, and the location of the phone that was used to place the call.

Classroom Call for Help Buttons

InformaCast allows staff members to call for help by pushing a button on their classroom phones. This immediately triggers an alert to a designated group of people, without broadcasting to the entire school. This feature was critical when there was a facility malfunction at Sauk Trail Elementary school in MCPASD.

The pipes had frozen and the custodian had been watching for that,” said Chris Dahlk, the principal of the school. “Water just started funneling out, and she thought to just go press the button. It alerted my phone, the office phone, the nurse’s phone, all of the student services phones, our librarian, and central people who could respond right away. We all came, probably literally in 10- 15 seconds.”

District-Wide Weather Alerting

Administrators can also manually send out alerts via Cisco phones or a secure Web portal if they want to notify their school offices and transportation people when there is a possibility of severe weather.

Visit our Schools & Districts page for more information about how InformaCast can help enhance student and teacher safety.