CareHawk’s life safety communications system played a central role in large-scale lockdown drills conducted by the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board (DPCDSB), Peel Regional Police, and surrounding emergency services.
CareHawk’s Modern Paging and Intercom Systems Close Critical Gaps in Emergency Response Procedures
While emergency services and schools train diligently to perform their independent roles in crisis response, the best outcomes favor a well-coordinated effort between all stakeholders and available technologies.
With school and community violence an ongoing concern, the Peel Regional Police set out to evaluate the community’s large-scale emergency response procedures and readiness. It was their first crisis scenario drill of this size and scope.
In coordination with the DPCDSB, they spearheaded the community wide exercise applying complex crisis scenarios involving the Brampton Fire Department, EMS, SWAT, and the City of Brampton, Ontario. Key personnel and fire services from surrounding areas came to take advantage of the learning opportunity.
Months of planning and coordination took place between stakeholders in preparation for the day-long events. To avoid public panic and confusion, local news stations reported on the upcoming exercise, and signs were placed strategically throughout the community before the day’s activities. An entire city block was closed and actors were recruited to simulate the live-action scenarios. To maximize training, multiple exercises were performed throughout the morning and afternoon, including worst-case scenarios that have recently become common throughout North America. To ensure situational authenticity, first responders were intentionally uninformed of key details ahead of time.
Out of over 40 schools in the district relying every day on CareHawk technologies, Saint Thomas Aquinas was chosen to participate as a hub for the day’s exercises. The school’s proximity to the police department and its prime location in the bustling city were other important considerations.
Since most violent incidents last only minutes, empowering school occupants to react before help arrives is critical to mitigating harm. The ability to alert, inform, and instruct first responders, administrative staff, teachers, and students at the touch of a button is paramount as police and other first responders make their way to the school. CareHawk’s flagship CH1000 Life Safety Communications Platform, which powered the school’s mass communication response, was a central component to the success of the drills.
A survey published in Campus Safety Magazines’ 2020 Emergency Notification Report revealed 22% of respondents rated “The number of different types of emergency notification systems” as “completely ineffective” or only “somewhat effective.” (Hattersley 2020, 3)
In the same study, Campus Safety Magazine reported that “For schools, universities, and hospitals, the inability to notify everyone in an emergency was the top concern (63%).” (Hattersley 2020, 1)
In comparison, according to Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board, the exercise was successful. “It was successful for us because we saw everything working the way it should, the way it was designed. Well, the minute the [lockdown] button got pressed, within not even 10 seconds, I had an email on my phone. Our Chief of Security, sitting beside me, had the same e-mail; that Saint Thomas Aquinas went into a lockdown.”, noted the Manager of Network Infrastructure, Cyber Security & Telecommunications for DPCDSB.
In addition to email alerts, automated prerecorded audio messages were sent to all speakers both inside and outside the school. The Peel Regional Police and other emergency services were impressed with the system’s capabilities and effectiveness. He also noted “It’s their [CareHawk’s] systems that are in there enabling us to do what we need to do. What better way to figure out and know how your system is working than to see it in action.”
The unfortunate truth is, most schools are not yet equipped with these essential life-saving systems and rely on ineffective outdated technologies that place a stressful burden on staff during emergencies. That’s the driving force behind school districts such as DPCDSB standardizing with CareHawk. Not only can districts stay up to date with effective modern emergency response, they can also reduce the burden of training staff on multiple systems as they commonly change roles and schools within the district.
As school infrastructure across North America begins to rely on IP technology, CareHawk recognizes the need to bridge the technology gap between traditional hybrid analog systems (CH1000) and their IP-based platform (CH2000IP) without compromising effectiveness and features. Schools can leverage their existing investment while migrating to the future of school communications thus maximizing restrictive capital budgets without sacrificing safety.
Important updates to ineffective intercom and public address (PA) systems include:
- Automated and priority-based prerecorded audio and visual messaging
- Automated email alerts
- Redundant one-touch or one-click lockdown initiation and alerts
- The ability to work with existing infrastructure and wiring made upgrading cost-effective and simple
- Other everyday conveniences include automatic daylight savings time updates, bell scheduling, intelligible classroom intercom, and zone paging.
School and community safety presents complex challenges for districts and emergency responders. A comprehensive approach, practice, and stakeholder coordination are fundamental to overall response effectiveness. As a committed technology leader and school safety partner, CareHawk is proud to be part of the solution for thousands of schools and communities across North America.