SAN ANTONIO — Alamo Heights ISD is implementing a new safety protocol that involves a wearable badge, button and the potential to save lives in an emergency situation.
Each staff member will soon be provided a CENTEGIX CrisisAlert badge, which has an embedded button with the ultimate capability of triggering a lockdown.
“By pressing this button, it creates an alert that’s monitored by myself, Dr. Alfaro and the campus response teams and we know right away not only who pushed the button, but also it tells us exactly where it is on the campus map,” said Frank Stanage, Alamo Heights ISD human resources director and district emergency management coordinator.
Three presses informs school administrators about a situation without alerting law enforcement. But an excess number of presses leads to an on-site lockdown, which is indicated by strobe lights, a blaring intercom message and automatic notification of police.
Stanage emphasized time is of the essence in the event of crisis scenarios.
“First responders will tell you that time is the most critical part, how quickly that we can either deal with it ourselves or if it’s beyond our capability, how we can get first responders in as quickly as possible,” Stanage said.
He noted the rollout of the system also serves as a way to attract and retain faculty at Alamo Heights ISD.
“Workplace safety [is the] number one issue not only for the schools but also throughout the nation, so this gives an extra level of security for our staff members,” Stanage said.
Alamo Heights ISD will continue to use a phone-based application that alerts staff during emergencies but Stanage stressed the protocol surrounding CENTEGIX CrisisAlert aims to make it easier for staff to make the important decision.
The Alamo Heights Schools Foundation funded the $184,000 CENTEGIX system over three years.
Northside ISD is in the process of expanding its front-office emergency notification system to every middle and high school. The system is currently installed at every elementary campus, giving staff the ability to lock exterior doors while alerting district police.
San Antonio’s largest school district has explored the option of a crisis button for-all type system, however Northside ISD spokesman Barry Perez noted there may be challenges with implementing such a protocol. But he stressed the idea is not off the table.
“I think the issue for Northside is that because we are so large with 125 schools and some 6,000 teachers, the level of system that would be need to be put in place is really, really a very large one and certainly more complex as you add more staff members and more facilities,” Perez said. “We’re certainly going to continue to look at school districts who pilot those types of programs to see what those lessons are because as we continually look at safety and security, that’s always going to be a possibility, how do we get better, how do we improve.”
Texas State Rep. Shawn Thierry (D-Houston) has introduced the so-called 'panic button bill," legislation that would mandate schools to have an emergency response system that notifies police and first responders.