Schools today are plagued with a myriad of challenges and the list continues to grow daily. With active shooter incidents on the rise, school administrators need to be proactive in their plans to improve safety.
In 2022, there were 51 school shootings in the US that resulted in injuries or deaths. Schools are extremely vulnerable to these types of incidents due to the high number of visitors on school grounds and the difficulties that can come along with tracking them. To help combat these issues, the security industry is continually introducing new technology to tackle these ongoing challenges. However, there is yet another huge issue facing schools that could also have deadly consequences.
According to the latest data from the 2022 National Youth Tobacco Survey, about 19% of high school students in the US reported using e-cigarettes or vaping products in the past 30 days. Meanwhile, around 5% of middle school students reported using these products during the same time frame.
These statistics indicate that vaping is more prevalent in high schools compared to middle schools. In 2022, most youth who reported using e-cigarettes used flavored varieties (84.9%). Among middle and high school students who used any type of flavored e-cigarette in 2022, the most commonly used flavors were fruit (69.1%), candy, desserts or other sweets (38.3%), mint (29.4%) and menthol (26.6%).
This trend is concerning because vaping products contain harmful chemicals that can negatively impact the health of young people. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that nicotine in e-cigarettes can harm brain development, which can affect learning, memory and attention. In addition, there have been cases of severe lung injury and even deaths linked to vaping.
So, what can we do as a society to ensure a safe and healthy environment for students and teachers? With health concerns now added to the list of challenges facing schools, the focus must be on implementing new, smarter technology to help combat vaping and safety concerns on campus.
During an emergency situation, campuses need an easy way to provide first responders situational awareness, so they can respond quickly as “time equals life” in an active shooter situation.
One solution is to implement a lockdown and emergency response system, which can help schools protect children, staff and first responders from death and injury. Teachers today are no longer required to just provide lesson plans and teach our children, but have now taken on the role of protector and in some cases can act as the first responder in an incident.
Teachers must therefore be trained on the latest lockdown and emergency response systems to successfully lockdown their classrooms and ensure the safety of their students. Gaining situational awareness quickly is the only way to save lives. It’s crucial for teachers to get the help they need in the classroom when they need it without having to look for a cell phone. By preparing in advance, campuses will have the power to communicate and notify the right people with the simple push of a button.
With a mission of helping society tackle this scourge, IPVideo Corporation introduced SENTRY ERS, a lockdown and emergency response system that provides bi-directional information during an emergency. Now, first responders can have their eyes and ears on the lockdown area and understand the scene on hand clearly.
With the push of a button, the entire school lockdown protocol is activated which includes: doors locking; PA announcements; strobe lights throughout facility; audible lockdown messages; location beacons activated; and police dispatch notified. Push notifications can be sent to security/administrators/the community, etc. with live audio and video communications automatically established and with first responders to assess and address the critical situation within seconds.
The benefits of this new solution include faster responses to critical threats, better informed/prepared first responders and teachers, improved emergency preparedness and complete respect for privacy. By integrating video, voice, text and GPS location data from classrooms and other areas where traditional video cameras cannot be deployed, schools can now rest easy knowing that all areas are being monitored.
When it comes to battling the vaping epidemic at schools, the HALO IoT Smart Sensor has been installed in thousands of schools in the US. Bringing the HALO IoT Smart Sensor and Sentry ERS to market has revolutionized how we think about school safety. The HALO Smart Sensor is at the forefront of solving ever-evolving safety and security concerns as the industry leader in monitoring privacy areas.
HALO works while protecting the privacy of individuals as it does not use cameras, record audio or capture any personally identifiable information (PII), making it the ideal solution for use in school restrooms and locker rooms. It also provides air quality monitoring, gunshot detection, emergency keyword alert and noise alerts, making it the perfect solution for schools. As we move forward, the battle to protect our students will continue as new challenges arise. We will continue to see advancements in technology that will provide schools with the most important lesson plans of how to keep people safe and healthy in the long term.
This article was originally published in the June edition of Security Journal Americas. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.