Children provide the beginnings and foundations of our societal future; school safety is a priority across the globe with many legal guidelines ensuring the protection of the young.
Every school holds the responsibility for the health and safety of its students, employees and visitors, and must be prepared for any security situation, be it something as insignificant as a fire drill or as significant as a life-threatening, emergency situation.
Visitor management is a necessity for security procedures. Through the use of badges and a simple digital check in/check out system, schools and staff can be certain about who walks in and out of their door, no matter the number of people or the size of the location.
It’s important to ensure that all visitors, students and staff understand the processes of the visitor management system and the correct procedures when it comes to emergency situations.
In February 2016, a Queensland ambulance service responded to and treated a 14-year-old boy with heat-related symptoms for heat stress, after a series of bomb threats across Queensland led to thousands of children being quickly evacuated from schools across the state.
With ten reported schools in the Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Townsville, Cairns and Rockhampton regions receiving bomb threats from an anonymous caller at 9.30am – similar in nature to that of interstate and overseas threats – all schools immediately enacted emergency procedures to ensure the safety of students and staff, and contacted police.
Well-implemented visitor management systems, means all schools involved could quickly evacuate all staff, students and visitors on-site to the designated area, eventually confirming there were no major injuries of any individual involved.
School safety requirements
When addressing state requirements for school visitors, contractors and staff there are various policies that must be abided by. Schools must:
- Be responsible for visitors allowed on the school premise
- Ensure a record of all visitors to the school is kept in the event of an emergency or future investigation
- Ensure that all contractors have the appropriate approvals to work with children such as WWC check
- Require all visitors arriving and departing during school hours to use a log to record their name, signature, the date and time, and purpose of their visit
The time-consuming procedures of traditional school sign-in measures to meet these requirements should be automated. Doing so ensures less time spent by staff signing in individuals, increased accuracy of data, improved visitor storage, and the automation of procedural and background checks, alerting staff if there was an issue.
Using technology to meet requirements
What has driven the adoption of electronic visitor management systems is the array of customisable apps and their ability to integrate with labellers, creating an easy-to-read, easy-to-use summary of information on individuals present at any given time and any given location in a school. Schools can even integrate platforms such as google maps and instant-messaging applications to quickly track and contact key personnel.
This system can:
- Alert registered staff of visitor arrivals via SMS or email
- Register frequent visitors quicker
- Register groups in advance
- Provide reporting with improved visuals and details
- Check in and check out with visitor’s smartphone
- Check in on single or multiple premises
- Manage assets such as cards and keys issued
- Offer advanced emergency evacuation procedures and tools
- Limit the number of visitors, contractors or staff
In November 2017, approximately 400 students were evacuated from a Sunshine Coast school after reports of a fire on the school grounds. Five fire crews rushed to the college of Buderim at midday when a school official discovered a fire inside the ducting system above the school’s maintenance room. Thankfully due to the visitor management system in place and the well-rehearsed evacuation procedures of the staff, no one during the fire was injured.
The size of the school can play a large role in the successfulness of an evacuation procedure like the one mentioned above. In an emergency situation at a school with thousands of students, some living on campus and numerous members of the public on campus, a successful emergency evacuation becomes significantly more difficult.
In a situation such as this, a well-implemented visitor management system offers the capability for emergency services to immediately request a list of all visitors on school grounds and also send an alert to the necessary crew to commence the evacuation procedure. This also means that office staff and emergency services personnel aren’t forced to rely their investigation and emergency procedures on what is often a poorly or incorrectly filled-out office book, possibly logging guests on incorrect days or times.