Schools, of all places, should be fully equipped to deal with emergency situations since they house some of our most vulnerable citizens - children.
Having an emergency operations control console as part of your school's security plan can allow you to monitor your school's security cameras and provide a two-way communication system in the event of an emergency.
One of the most important aspects of any security plan is the ability to monitor and respond to potential threats in real-time. With an emergency operations control console, you can do just that.
You'll have a central location from which you can view your school's security camera footage and keep tabs on who is coming and going from the school.
On top of that, you can use the console's two-way communication system to immediately get in touch with first responders in the event of an emergency.
The system can be a vital asset in keeping your school safe and secure. Here's a detailed overview of how an emergency operations control console can help strengthen your school's security response.
What Is an Emergency Operations Control Console?
An emergency operations control console is a physical or virtual location from which emergency responders coordinate and direct response activities during an incident.
The console may be staffed by representatives of various agencies who share responsibility for responding to the incident. It is the central location where all response activities are coordinated and directed.
The console should be staffed by representatives of all agencies who have a role in responding to the incident. In addition, each agency should have a designated representative responsible for coordinating that agency's response activities.
For example, in a school, the principal would be the designated representative for the school district, and the school resource officer would be the appointed representative for the local law enforcement agency.
The console should also have a designated representative from each supporting agency, such as the utility company, Red Cross, etc.
How Does an Emergency Operations Control Console Complement School Security Plan?
Every school should have a comprehensive security plan to protect students, faculty, and staff against potential hazards. A vital component of any effective security plan is an emergency operations control console (EOCC).
Here are some ways in which an EOCC can complement school security.
Provides a Central Location for Response Management
An EOCC provides school administrators with a central location to monitor and coordinate responses to emergencies.
For instance, if a fire breaks out in one part of the school, the EOCC can track the fire department's response and ensure that everyone is evacuated safely.
Moreover, an EOCC can be used to monitor multiple emergencies at once. For example, if a severe weather event is occurring while a fire alarm is going off, the EOCC can be used to coordinate the response to both emergencies.
Enables Effective Communication
An EOCC is equipped with multiple communication tools that can be used to effectively communicate with first responders, school staff, and students during an emergency.
For example, the EOCC can be used to send out alerts to all school personnel, informing them of the emergency and providing instructions on what to do.
In addition, the EOCC can coordinate communication between school personnel, such as the principal and the head of security.
Effective communication is essential for ensuring everyone is on the same page and knows what needs to be done to respond to an emergency.
Allows for Remote Monitoring
In some cases, it may not be possible or safe for school administrators to be physically present in the EOCC during an emergency.
Fortunately, many EOCCs are equipped with remote monitoring capabilities that allow school administrators to monitor the situation remotely.
If an evacuation is necessary, school administrators can use the EOCC to monitor the progress of the evacuation and ensure that everyone is safely evacuated.
Functions of an Emergency Operations Control Console
Different units forming an emergency response organization will access the EOCC through various consoles. The type of console used depends on the personnel's role and location.
The primary function of an EOCC is to provide a common operating picture for all responding units, both within the organization and with external agencies. The EOCC should also provide a means for the Incident Commander to direct and control the overall response.
The EOCC should be equipped with a variety of communication tools, including:
A public address system to make announcements to personnel inside and outside of the facility
Telephones for making calls to other units or agencies
Computers with Internet access for research and email
Fax machines and copiers
A whiteboard or flipchart for writing down information
Television and radio to monitor news reports
The EOCC should also have a variety of maps, including:
A floor plan of the facility
A map of the local area
A map of the region
An evacuation route map
Considering these components of the EOCC, it's easy to figure out the console's functions. For instance, the EOCC will have the following tasks in a school setting.
Commanding: The overall response management is directed by the EOCC. This is where the Incident Commander will be located, along with other key personnel.
Communicating: All announcements to personnel will be made from the EOCC PA system. The EOCC should also have a telephone for calling other agencies or units. Computers with Internet access provide email and research capabilities.
Coordinating: The EOCC is responsible for coordinating all units responding to the incident. It includes keeping track of what units are on scene, which are en route, and what units are available.
Documenting: The EOCC should have a whiteboard or flipchart to document information. For instance, it may include a list of supplies that have been used.
Monitoring: The EOCC should have a television and radio to monitor news reports. It can provide information on the overall incident, traffic, or weather conditions.
Financing and Administring: The EOCC is also responsible for tracking the incident costs. They will have to make required payments to contractors and responders.
All in all, the EOCC is responsible for managing the entire incident response. They provide the Incident Commander with information and tools to make decisions. They also coordinate between all of the units responding to the incident.
Which Emergency Protocols and Response Plans Should the Emergency Operations Control Console Have?
When it comes to school security, there are a few emergency protocols and response plans that every emergency operations control console should have.
One of the most important things for a school security team is to have a well-designed and communicated lockdown procedure.
It should be a part of every school's comprehensive safety plan, and everyone on the security team should be familiar with it. In addition, the lockdown procedure should be designed to keep students and staff safe in the event of an active shooter or other violent intruders.
Another necessary emergency protocol for schools is a fire evacuation plan. Every school should have a well-designed fire evacuation plan that is regularly practiced. It will ensure that everyone knows what to do in a fire.
Here are some standard emergency response plans the EOCC should have:
Fire Response Plan: A first response plan must include the location of all fire exits and a primary and secondary route out of the building. All staff should know where these exits are located and how to use them in the event of a fire.
Severe Weather Plan: Schools must have a plan for severe weather conditions, such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and blizzards. The plan should include a designated shelter area and a way to communicate with parents and guardians.
Active Shooter Plan: In the event of an active shooter, every school should have a plan to keep students and staff safe. The plan should include a lockdown procedure and a way to communicate with law enforcement.
Evacuation Plan: Every school should have an evacuation plan in an emergency, such as a fire or chemical spill.
Bomb Threat Response Plan: If there's a bomb threat, schools should have a plan in place to evacuate the building and notify law enforcement.
The curation of these plans is vital to schools' safety. The emergency operations control console should have access to these plans and be the center for coordinating their execution in an emergency.