Baldwin County Board of Education approves CrisisAlert system in all schools

New technology will alert every employee within seconds in an emergency

By Jessica Vaughn
Education Editor
jessica@gulfcoastmedia.com
Posted 8/1/22

BAY MINETTE — The Baldwin County Board of Education approved the installation of CENTEGIX’s CrisisAlert Badge system within all county schools during the Thursday, July 21 board …

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Baldwin County Board of Education approves CrisisAlert system in all schools

New technology will alert every employee within seconds in an emergency

Posted

BAY MINETTE — The Baldwin County Board of Education approved the installation of CENTEGIX’s CrisisAlert Badge system within all county schools during the Thursday, July 21 board meeting.

The agreement consists of supplying a CrisisAlert badge to every employee, responder application, analytics dashboard and strategic integration. The 5-year quote is $1,871,300, or $374,600 per year. The cost will be funded through Federal ESSER III (ARP) appropriations (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funds).

“In light of everything that’s going on in our country right now, law enforcement agencies are revisiting their plans,” said Eddie Tyler, system superintendent. “Then we have discussions on all of the shootings that have happened, near shootings, and everybody is revisiting their plans. We need to see how we can continue to enhance our safety.”

What is CrisisAlert?

CrisisAlert launched in 2018. The system has been installed at Fairhope High School for one and a half years and at Fairhope Middle School for one school year. Based off positive feedback from both schools, the BCBE is excited to bring the technology to the rest of the system.

CrisisAlert places a specialized badge around the neck of every school system employee. These badges feature one button.

Three presses of the button send an alert to the cell phones and devices of designated staff, such as principals, assistant principals, SRO officers and school nurses, that help is needed for situations including medical emergencies or a fight. These designated staff members are alerted of the exact location of the badge wearer when the button was pressed.

“What this is about is how do you enable every single employee to quickly and easily call for help from anywhere on their campus and let the right people know, ‘I need help and here’s where I am,’” said Derek Roh, solution innovation & delivery at CENTEGIX.

Clicking the button repeatedly without stopping sets off strobe lights, placed by CENTEGIX in each room and hallway, and begins a warning announcement. Lock your doors. Turn off your lights. A campus-wide emergency is underway.

How does CrisisAlert work?

“It’s all about response time,” Roh said. “In an emergency, and this is for every type of emergency, we lose motor skills. So, trying to get your phone out, do you even have it on you, do you have a signal; this badge eliminates that. Everybody has it, it’s easy to grab it and just click a button.”

Roh said the badges are used for a staff alerts 98% of the time, meaning employees requesting assistance for a medical emergency or help breaking up a fight. Who receives those notifications is up to each individual school.

The remaining 2% of the time the badges are used for campus-wide emergency situations, which could include an intruder on campus or an active shooting.

“We put these strobes in every room, they’re down the halls, in the library, everywhere, and in the event of an emergency they’ll start flashing,” Roh said. “Then a pre-recorded intercom message that the school district can set will play, telling employees to act. You don’t have to start the recording; it will start automatically. And then every teacher computer in the school will be taken over with a message telling them the school is going into lockdown, so we hit you three ways. The bottom line is literally in seconds your campus is doing what they need to do to protect themselves.”

In a lockdown situation, the schools can choose other organizations to be alerted as well, such as the local police department, local fire department and surrounding schools.

“Most active shooter situations are done in five minutes if they’re responded to appropriately,” said Cpl. Jeff Spaller, Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office. “So, if you’ve got the ability to click a button however many times it needs to be clicked, if that set of eyes can lock a school down before a shooter can get into that facility, you’ve bought time. In 25 years of law enforcement, I’ve watched the Columbine shooting, I’ve watched all the way up until now, and the technology that we have that’s available with this system is pretty impressive. I’m all for this.”

Other types of emergencies can be broadcast as well. Through an app, administrators can send their school into seek shelter mode when severe weather threatens.

How do the badges operate?

The badges are battery run with a life of approximately 4 to 5 years. Batteries can be monitored by school administration and CENTEGIX. When a badge is losing its charge, it can be sent to CENTEGIX for a replacement, free of charge.

The badges offer location accuracy, being able to give location down to which story someone is on when inside a multilevel building. The system is used campus-wide, including on any fields connected to the campus, parking lots or exterior buildings. Roh said the badges do not, however, track location until the button has been pressed. They can also be deactivated in the event that one is lost.

The school system can purchase extra badges for individual schools to hand out to substitutes. The BCBE discussed making training on how to use the badges part of its mandatory substitute training process.

When will the system be up and running?

The timeframe to install the CrisisAlert System is approximately 90 days but can decrease or increase depending on the number of schools in a system and the time it takes for CENTEGIX to receive campus maps. Employee training takes place after the system has been installed, allowing employees to see how the alert notifications, strobes and intercom system will work.

Roh said the system could potentially be installed in every Baldwin County school by late October.

“I don’t see that we could afford not to do this,” said Cecil Christenberry, District 6 representative. “It’s right here, we know it, it’s tested. I know there’s a lot going on in our country right now, but this is so much more than just that. It covers shootings, but it’s also for emergency medical situations and fights.”

For more information on how CrisisAlert works, visit www.centegix.com/education.

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