Emergency Services

 

 

https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Stress-Test.aspxStress TestGP0|#28ae3eb9-d865-484b-ac9f-3dfacb4ce997;L0|#028ae3eb9-d865-484b-ac9f-3dfacb4ce997|Strategic Security;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a43444652017-10-01T04:00:00Zhttps://adminsm.asisonline.org/pages/mark-tarallo.aspx, Mark Tarallo<p>It’s stressful being a first responder—that’s a statement that has been accepted as axiomatic for years. But just how stressful, the impact of the stress, and how the stress can be best treated are all issues that have been poorly understood. </p><p>“For too long, we—we being the general public, and we being the government on every level—did not recognize that impact (of stress and trauma) on first responders,” says Deborah Beidel, professor of psychology at the University of Central Florida (UCF) where she directs the UCF RESTORES Clinic, which uses virtual reality tools to treat victims of stress disorders. “There’s no Veteran's Affairs for first responders. This is a problem that each county and each state has to own up to and face.” </p><p>Now, recent research and programs like the one at UCF RESTORES are providing fresh insights into various types of stress and trauma experienced by different first responders, and which types of treatments are most effective. </p><p>Anastasia Miller has experienced first responder stress first-hand. For about five years, she worked as a firefighter and as an emergency medical service responder. She found the work stressful—at least at times, she says.  Later, as a graduate student, she decided to study this stress and its impacts.</p><p>At UCF, Miller devoted her doctoral dissertation to stress, burnout, and support strategies for first responders. Last month, her research was published in the International Journal of Police Science and Management. </p><p>In her research, Miller looked at four types of first responders working at state protective agencies in Florida—firefighters, law enforcement officers, emergency medical service providers, and dispatchers. </p><p>She included dispatchers in part because she had already interviewed many of them for a previous unpublished research project, and had found that they suffered symptoms of numbness, anger, and feeling haunted by incidents. “They were describing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms,” she says. </p><p>In sum, Miller found that different types of responders can experience stress differently. For example, responders who either witness a traumatic event or help a victim overcome an event, but are not directly involved with the event itself, may experience secondary traumatic stress. Because they are not victims of the event itself, they do not have PTSD per se, but some of the symptoms of secondary stress are similar to PTSD symptoms. </p><p>This secondary traumatic stress was common, at least at some level, Miller found. About 60 percent of first responders displayed low levels of secondary traumatic stress, 39 percent displayed moderate levels, and 1 percent displayed high levels, according to her survey. </p><p>But of the four types of responders, dispatchers and EMS personnel were the most likely to experience high levels of secondary traumatic stress. And, as she gathered from her previous unpublished research, dispatchers were the responders who showed the most burnout and felt the least amount of support. </p><p>“I guess I was hoping that would not be the case, but it wasn’t a surprise,” she said of the finding. </p><p>In general, Miller says she is glad there has been more attention paid to first responders’ needs since 9/11, but progress in giving them better support seems slow and incomplete. </p><p>“It’s often blanket statements and blanket policies without much data,” she says, adding that when responders’ needs are addressed, dispatchers are often ignored. Further study is needed on the individual needs of different types of responders, and how programs could be better customized to support each role, she explains. </p><p>Like Miller, Beidel also recognizes the intense stress that dispatchers can undergo. In fact, it was a dispatcher who played a critical role in expanding UCF RESTORES treatment services for first responders. </p><p>Beidel and UCF RESTORES clinicians started working with combat veterans with PTSD in 2011. The results were promising. Beidel examined information about the first 100 patients of the clinic for a study later published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders; the study found that 66 percent of the patients no longer had PTSD after three weeks of treatment.</p><p>Then in 2014, a UCF colleague named Clint Bowers was discussing this work with his sister, an emergency dispatcher. When the dispatcher heard about the PTSD suffered by combat veterans, she said, “PTSD? You ought to talk to me.”</p><p>This sparked the group to start working with first responders. As part of this work, they developed a peer support training program for fire departments. Through this program, the clinic developed ties with fire departments in the greater Orlando area, and when the Pulse nightclub shooting occurred last year, clinicians were called in to debrief firefighters on the morning after. </p><p>“It was quite stressful,” Beidel says. In those debriefings, she and her colleagues offered “psychological first aid.” </p><p>Since that time, the clinic has worked with firefighters, police officers, and emergency dispatchers. A few months ago, clinic officials received $5.5 million in U.S. federal and state grant funding to develop an entire virtual reality treatment system for first responders, which is scheduled to be up and running by the first quarter of 2019.</p><p>The clinic’s virtual reality treatment program uses sight, sounds, and smells to recreate conditions that cause the responder stress or trauma. It does so through the use of head-mounted viewers, earphones, and a scent machine that blows out the appropriate smells, such as burning or smoky odors.  </p><p>Patients may be treated five days a week for three weeks running; this is combined with group-therapy sessions on stress-related topics like anger management and depression.</p><p>“If you think about trauma, everything that’s associated with trauma is triggered by a remembering of trauma,” Beidel says. So, if a man in a red shirt is walking a mean dog that gets off his leash and attacks someone, the victim’s memories of that terrible event may later be triggered by a red shirt.</p><p>To treat such a victim, a virtual reality scenario might be created wherein the victim encounters a man in a red shirt walking a very friendly dog who stays on the leash. </p><p>“It creates new learning. It breaks those old connections,” she explains. “People are making new connections—neural connections—and they are developing new memories. We never erase the old memory, but that mem­ory loses the power to dictate one’s life.”</p><p>With the new grant funding, Beidel hopes that the clinic can increase its reach and treat more first responders. The need for treatment is pressing, she says, given the impact that stress can have. For example, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation has found that firefighters are three times more likely to die by suicide than from a blaze. </p><p>And the problem is not just an American one; other organizations outside the United States have recognized the need for dealing with first responder stress. In Canada, Simon Fraser University (SFU) in Vancouver started a First Responders Trauma Prevention and Recovery certificate program designed to help responders mitigate the effects of stress and trauma. The SFU program was started in 2016 after the suicide rate for first responders in Canada increased, with 39 Canadian first responders taking their own lives in 2015. </p><p>“That’s the thing—this is something that can be treated,” Beidel says. “But we first have to recognize it.”   ​</p>

Emergency Services

 

 

https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Stress-Test.aspx2017-10-01T04:00:00ZStress Test
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Houston’s-Game-Day-Solutions.aspx2017-07-01T04:00:00ZHouston’s Game Day Solutions
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Protecting-Executives-at-Home.aspx2017-06-19T04:00:00ZProtecting Executives at Home
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Industry-News-September-2016.aspx2016-09-01T04:00:00ZIndustry News September 2016
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Industry-News-April-2016.aspx2016-04-01T04:00:00ZIndustry News April 2016
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Secure-Activism-101.aspx2016-03-14T04:00:00ZSecure Activism 101: How To Survive a Demonstration
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/U-Penn-Puts-Out-the-Fire.aspx2016-03-01T05:00:00ZU Penn Puts Out the Fire
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Access-to-the-Firehouse.aspx2016-02-02T05:00:00ZAccess to the Firehouse
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Police-and-Use-of-Force.aspx2016-02-01T05:00:00ZPolice and Use of Force
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Experts-Search-for-Innovation.aspx2016-01-14T05:00:00ZExperts Search for Innovation
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Industry-News-November-2015.aspx2015-11-10T05:00:00ZIndustry News November 2015
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Communication-Under-Pressure.aspx2015-10-26T04:00:00ZCommunication under pressure
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Five-Incidents-That-Shaped-Crisis-Management.aspx2015-06-29T04:00:00ZFive Incidents That Shaped Crisis Management
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/At-a-Moment's-Notice.aspx2015-06-22T04:00:00ZVIDEO: At a Moment's Notice
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Body-Cameras-Fashion-or-Function.aspx2015-04-01T04:00:00ZBody Cameras: Fashion or Function?
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Shots-Fired.aspx2015-02-01T05:00:00ZShots Fired
https://sm.asisonline.org/migration/Pages/new-technology-could-help-first-responders-save-more-lives-0012741.aspx2013-09-09T04:00:00ZNew Technology Could Help First Responders Save More Lives
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Police-Protection.aspx2013-04-01T04:00:00ZPolice Protection
https://sm.asisonline.org/migration/Pages/public-health-management-disasters-practice-guide-009591.aspx2012-03-01T05:00:00ZPublic Health Management of Disasters: The Practice Guid
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Police-Embrace-Social-Media.aspx2011-11-01T04:00:00ZPolice Embrace Social Media

 You May Also Like...

 

 

https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Securing-the-Fan-Experience.aspxSecuring the Fan Experience<p>​<span style="line-height:1.5em;">In October 2005, as the final seconds ticked off the clock and Oklahoma University (OU) sealed its 43 to 21 victory against Kansas State, an announcement washed over the 84,000 fans gathered in the football stadium: a bomb had gone off outside the stadium and attendees could not leave.</span></p><p> When fans finally exited the venue 30 minutes later, OU student Joel Henry Hinrichs III was dead, killed when an explosive device attached to his body detonated near Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. After an FBI investigation, authorities determined that Hinrichs had no intention of harming others and his death was ruled a suicide.</p><p> The incident at OU is just one in a long line of threats to sports venues across the United States and the world, stretching from the Munich Summer Olympics in 1972 to the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013. Now, any sporting event can be selected as a worthy target,and with more than 2,450 stadiums in the United States alone, there are many of these critical infrastructure targets to choose from.</p><p> Complacency in responding to emerging threats could result in lost assets, injuries, and deaths. The National Football League (NFL) addressed this concern with its clear bag policy for entry into any football game—a controversial and unpopular decision, especially for female fans. </p><p> The policy, adopted in May 2013, requires fans who carry in bags to use bags that are clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC that do not exceed 12” x 6” x 12.” The league also allows fans to bring in one-gallon, clear, plastic freezer bags, and small clutch bags that are approximately the size of a hand. These rules are similar to policies that were already in place at the University of Michigan, Penn State University, and others.</p><p> “Our fans deserve to be in a safe and secure environment,” said Jeffrey Miller, NFL vice president and chief security officer, in a press release on the policy. “Public safety is our top priority. This will make the job of checking items much more efficient and effective.”</p><p> Following the NFL’s actions, in January 2014, Major League Baseball (MLB) announced that metal detectors will be required by 2015 in all baseball stadiums. The policy was developed with the aid of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in an effort to “standardize security practices across the game,” said MLB spokesman Michael Teevan in a press release. All 30 teams will be required to implement security screening for fans, either with hand-held metal detection or walk-through magnetometers.</p><p> Although there are many obstacles to overcome, the ultimate goal is to provide a secure venue where sports fans are safe watching their team and the stakeholders are responsible in their efforts to provide a safe and secure environment. Two ways of doing this are by understanding the current liability landscape and through improvements in facility design.​</p><h4>Liability</h4><p>During the February 2014 Super Bowl, DHS provided support to the State of New Jersey and the NFL to help secure MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford and establish a perimeter around the facility. Efforts included teams to secure transit to and from the stadium, equipment scanning of cargo entering the stadium, air security enforcement, maritime and waterway security, and the addition of screeners and checkpoint lanes at Newark Liberty International Airport for the influx of fans arriving by air for the game.</p><p> This was part of the department’s efforts through the Support Anti-Terrorism by Fostering Effective Technologies (SAFETY) Act of 2002, which allows businesses to have a cap placed on liability due to terrorist acts where Qualified Anti-Terrorism Technologies (QATTs) have been deployed. Many venues in the sporting world have qualified for the act designation and are among the more than 685 applications that have been approved, according to DHS.</p><p> When venues achieve designation, they are encouraged to develop and deploy antiterrorism technology, and private corporations have seized on the opportunity to promote the financial incentive of enhancing technology and infrastructure to create a secure ring around venues. These methods include 24-hour awareness of the interior and exterior of the venue before, during, and after the event, such as the security operation surrounding the 2014 Super Bowl. </p><p> The SAFETY Act is just one part of the initiative to improve security at critical infrastructure in the United States, clarify liability, and ensure that insurance is available to cover terrorist attacks. This became a major concern for the private sector following the collapse of the Twin Towers, when the courts decided that the World Trade Center stakeholders should have known that the building complex was a potential target for terrorist attacks. Consequently, the stakeholders should have provided more mitigation to occupants in the buildings, the courts determined, resulting in $39.4 billion in losses from the towers’ collapse.</p><p> Following the incident, many insurance providers began to exclude terrorism coverage from their policies. This ultimately threatened the economy; commercial project leaders and many industry investors require terrorism protection to begin construction.</p><p> After the insurance companies’ move, the federal government decided to take action, and in 2002, Congress passed the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which allows the federal government to assist with compensation in the event of losses from a terrorist attack. It was renewed by Congress in 2007 and is currently being debated for extension through December 2019; otherwise, it will expire at the end of this year.​</p><h4>Facility Design</h4><p>With the changing liability landscape, constructing new stadiums and retrofitting them to improve the fan experience and security is now a focus. Venue owners of the NFL, MLB, National Hockey League, and National Basketball Association are taking pride in developing new, elaborate facilities, and have recognized that stadium construction analysis and design can help them achieve their goal of protecting the up to 100,000 people who attend a game. </p><p> New stadiums can be engineered for increased safety. For example, to ensure maximum security new construction can avoid dangerous major industrial areas, highways, freight railways, and bodies of water. The structure should also be protected against earthquakes, lightning, and bombs.</p><p> Additionally, it should have all glassy, show areas away from where the fans stand. This means putting up a large expanse of glass near the entry could result in a shower of glass on fans if a sniper or bomb blast blows it out.</p><p> Venues should also be less porous. In particular, ballparks should not expose their outfields to adjacent neighborhood buildings where a sniper could lurk. There are now numerous companies that promote building protection, bollards, barriers, safety glass retrofit, hydraulic lift gate closure, hazardous materials detection technology, and other security services to protect the integrity of the building and the fans.</p><p> Along with improving the safety features of the materials in the facility itself, ingress and egress issues should also be of concern to venue owners: patrons have been crushed to death on several occasions. One of the worst incidents of fans being crushed at a soccer match was at a match at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, in 1989 where 93 people were killed and 180 injured when fans surged forward in severely overcrowded stands, according to <em>The New York Times. </em></p><p> Egress should also be considered during an evacuation, given that victims can be trampled when panicking crowds behave erratically, such as during a fire. Venues can also be held liable for crowd crush incidents, so many are changing their venue construction and practices in response. For instance, festival seating or open admission is no longer a universal practice because crowds can get unruly and can threaten public safety, according to Steven Adelman of Adelman Law Group. Adelman doesn’t consider general seating, such as festival seating, to be a wise arrangement. Assigned seating, railings, sections, and corridors are valuable for crowd management and result in fewer crush situations.</p><p> Venues of various capacities in the United States will eventually be required to protect the public with a high standard of security, including MLB and NFL stadiums. The focus on entry security and control of access is only one of many enhancements seen in the last few years that are now necessary to prepare for a wide range of threats.</p><p> In the past, venue security was focused on weather related, earthquake related, or firearm related threats. The concerns of today include biological, chemical, radiological, and hidden explosive threats, and venues must take the proper precautions to ensure fans and athletes within their facilities are secure. </p><h4>Government Programs for Securing Sports Venues</h4><p><br>The federal government has designated sports venues as critical infrastructure and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is providing a variety of resources to the sector, taking the lead in sports venue security. One of its first projects was in May 2005 when the agency worked with the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, providing funds to the University of Southern Mississippi to develop a model for sports venue security. </p><p> These vulnerability models were designed to address hazards and threats, and DHS has concentrated on providing resources for venue owners and managers. Following are a few such tools available to security professionals.</p><p> <strong>Risk assessment.</strong> DHS has created a Risk Self-Assessment Tool (RSAT), which provides an assessment of the venue and a benchmark report, comparing it to other similar venues. Results of the assessment are confidential and can address retrofitting of equipment and physical infrastructure, technology, staff training, maintenance, and creating a virtual ring of safety around a venue to increase security.</p><p> <strong>Reference materials. </strong>DHS also publishes an official Protective Measures Guide for U.S. Sports Leagues and a Protective Measures Guide for Outdoor Venues as a resource for sports venues. It also has created a suspicious activity video, Check It! A Training Guide: How to Check a Bag for Security Personnel, which includes guidelines on checking for false sides or bottoms, and checking for forbidden or hidden items. </p><p> DHS has also created another video in the Check It! line on protecting public spaces. This video explains how to recognize suspicious behavior.</p><p> Additionally, DHS will also provide site assistance visits for venue owners and law enforcement to receive input on their particular venue vulnerabilities. DHS can also provide evacuation planning for a stadium.</p><p> <strong>Cubed Program.</strong> DHS is also taking an active role in promoting the interconnectivity of cybersecurity and physical security. One recent initiative, the Cubed Program (C3), was announced in February 2014 and is just one of DHS’s recent efforts. The program provides assistance to owners and operators, voluntarily, to use DHS guidelines in managing their cybersecurity. The program provides cybersecurity resources and access to a cybersecurity advisor. </p><p> The federal government also provides incentives for participating, including liability protection, procurement advantages, and tax grants. </p><p> <strong>Reviews.</strong> If a sports venue is listed in the Commercial Facilities Sector of U.S. critical infrastructure, DHS will provide tools for a self-assessment Cyber Resilience Review. However, DHS also gives venues an option to allow a DHS representative to perform a security assessment. All findings are then presented in a confidential report.</p><p> <strong>Insider Threat.</strong> DHS’s Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) also offers programs to assist with sports venue security. Its “IS-915: Protecting Critical Infrastructure Against Insider Threat” course provides guidance to critical infrastructure employees and service providers on how to identify and take action against insider threats. There are no prerequisites for the course, which is offered for free on FEMA’s website, but FEMA recommends that participants take “IS-906: Workplace Security Awareness” to provide a foundation for the course.</p><p> <strong>Surveillance.</strong> FEMA also offers another program, “IS-914: Surveillance Awareness: What You Can Do, A Guide to Identifying Suspicious Behavior.” The course is designed to make critical infrastructure employees and service providers aware of actions they can take to detect and report suspicious activities associated with adversarial surveillance—surveillance conducted to gather information about individuals, organizations, businesses, and infrastructure to commit an act of terrorism or another crime.</p><p> The course is also available on FEMA’s website for free and also provides additional course documents and training resources for students. </p><h4>Sports Venue Security Checklist</h4><ul><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Credential all employees and vendors with photo IDs.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Conduct background checks on all staff working the event, including delivery staff and concessions suppliers.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Conduct pre-event staff training on e</span><span style="line-height:1.5em;">mergency plans for evacuation, hazardous weather, terrorism, hostage events, bomb threats, releases of chemical agents, food borne illnesses, fire, structural collapse, and earthquakes.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Prepare and update a protocol and script in video and audio of emergency instructions for every type of emergency.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Address crowd management and fan demographics, accounting for the influence of alcohol and fan emotion. Ensure one crowd observer—live or via video surveillance—for every 250 visitors.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Upgrade to advanced camera surveillance of interior, exterior, and perimeter of the venue for 24-7 coverage.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Promote the use of the Department of Homeland Security initiative “If You See Something, Say Something” to empower fans and staff through signage and video.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Assess barriers, fences, and surveillance of the perimeter and install perimeter barriers, bollards, or planters as needed.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Secure all systems serving the venue, including air flow, utilities, and water.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Make sure hazmat strips are in place to monitor air quality and detect foreign chemicals.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Search and lock down the venue before the event; all individuals and vehicles should be searched on arrival.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Ensure that all parking and entry staff are equipped with radios.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Have highly visible uniformed security and law enforcement in place to act as a deterrent.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Secure all concessions.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Maintain open communication and cooperation with law enforcement.<br></span><br></li><li><span style="line-height:1.5em;">Consider using a social media technology for situational awareness to monitor the venue.</span><span style="line-height:1.5em;">​</span><br></li></ul><div><br> </div><div><em>Nancy Serot is a business development manager for Phoenix Risk Assessment and a member of ASIS International. Thomas K. Zink is a professor at the Saint Louis University Department of Environment and Occupational Health and founder of Project EQUIPP.</em><br></div>GP0|#cd529cb2-129a-4422-a2d3-73680b0014d8;L0|#0cd529cb2-129a-4422-a2d3-73680b0014d8|Physical Security;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a4344465
https://sm.asisonline.org/Pages/Sounding-the-Alarm-at-Lone-Star.aspxSounding the Alarm at Lone Star<p>In our interconnected world, the vast majority of people within a college campus community think little of an emergency and how the institution will communicate with them—until it happens. Then, they want timely information on what is occurring, what to do, and where they can learn more.  </p><p>There is an assumption that if anything happens, everyone will receive a text message instantly, the faculty and staff will know what to do, and there will be an announcement over a public address system. Expectations are set. </p><p>Recent events, like the shooting at Oregon’s Umpqua Community College in October 2015, have students, faculty, parents, and guests inquiring about the notification equipment and procedures in place on their campus. They want assurances that the emergency systems will work when needed. </p><p>Many institutions have opt-in text messaging solutions and public address systems used for a broad range of services, including special events. In an emergency, speakers, sirens, and horns are often the first warnings received that danger is present or imminent.  </p><p>To meet the expectation of the campus community, schools must understand what emergency communications are necessary, what the law requires, and what the school can afford.  </p><p>This was the challenge facing Lone Star College (LSC) in 2010. The largest higher education institution in the Houston area, with six colleges, eight centers, two university centers, and LSC-Online, LSC provides high-quality academic transfer, workforce education, and career training programs to more than 83,000 credit students each semester, and a total enrollment of 95,000 students. It would need a robust emergency communication system to support its diverse campus community. ​</p><h4>Crafting a Solution </h4><p>When LSC decided to create its notification system, LoneStarAlert, in 2010, it used a team approach, crafting a selection committee and choosing a sponsor who could move the project forward. An LSC vice chancellor responsible for safety and security was chosen as the sponsor—an indicator of the project’s importance within LSC. </p><p>LSC then began selecting its committee members, including a cross section of the organization: administrative, college relations, compliance, emergency management, facilities, IT, law enforcement, procurement, student services, and tenants. </p><p>The committee also included individuals who preferred the status quo system at LSC, which had six colleges and six alert systems with their own name, workflow, vendor, and contracts. Having individuals on the committee who represented each of these systems made them realize that one solution with one name was a better overall system for LSC. Because of this, these individuals felt they had a voice and were being heard, making them great ambassadors for the new system. </p><p>Once the committee was assembled, LSC began assessing its environment. It knew it had different systems and various levels of sophistication because the campus had buildings that ranged from 40 to less than five years old. The buildings were also geographically dispersed among the city of Houston and Harris and Montgomery Counties in Texas, each of which has its own building and fire codes.  </p><p>To tackle this service area—approximately the size of Rhode Island—LSC first targeted the LSC-Greenspoint Center, a mid-rise atrium building with the most stringent fire ordinances of all the buildings on LSC campuses.  </p><p>LSC also targeted buildings within two colleges: LSC-North Harris and LSC-Kingwood. LSC-North Harris was chosen because it is close to a major airport and runway. LSC-Kingwood was chosen because it falls under three jur­isdictions—half the campus sits in Montgomery County, the remaining half is in Harris County, and the entire campus is annexed by the City of Houston.  </p><p>Then, over a five-year period, LSC created a mass notification system (MNS) with multiple levels of redundancy. ​</p><h4>the lone star system </h4><p>LSC implemented LoneStarAlert in 2011, consolidating its various emergency campus text messaging services under one solution. LoneStarAlert is a Web-based warning system that can send voice and text alerts to registered individuals when an emergency occurs. </p><p>The system works by issuing an alert over speakers, via a prerecorded or live message, and through e-mail messages in English and Spanish. For example, for a lockdown the prerecorded message says: “Attention. Lockdown now. There is an emergency on campus. Go into the nearest room or closet and lock the door.” Messages also instruct the campus community to wait for further instructions while they remain in a safe place. </p><p>LoneStarAlert also uses text messages of 90 characters or less—in English and Spanish. For an active shooter situation, messages say “Lockdown now. Emergency on campus. Go to nearest safe place, stay calm, and wait for further instructions.”  </p><p>More than 100,000 users are registered for the alert system, and it is only used for emergency messaging and testing of the system. Users are added through an automated system at the beginning of the semester, and users also have the option to self-register.  </p><p>This information is collected in compliance with the State of Texas Education Code Section 51.218 Emergency Alert System. The code requires institutions of higher education to gather a student’s personal e-mail, cell phone, or telephone number to deliver emergency communiques; using only LSC’s e-mail and voice mail system does not satisfy the requirement. </p><p>This information must be added to LSC’s LoneStarAlert system once provided, typically during registration. This process is repeated at the start of each semester.  </p><p>The system is also designed as an opt-out system, rather than an opt-in (choosing to participate) system, in compliance with the code. LSC does not allow this data to be used for any other purpose.  </p><p>Some users are still reluctant to regist­er for LoneStarAlert for fear that their information will be sold to third-party marketers. Ensuring this personal information is only used for emergency use not only keeps LSC in compliance with state regulations, it also shows that the institution is committed to protecting users’ privacy.  </p><p>LSC has made a commitment to closely manage this information and grant access to it only on a need-to-know basis and as authorized.  ​</p><h4>targeting the lsc population </h4><p>For an MNS to work, the institution has to think of the recipients it wants to target and ensure the system is capable of sending alert messages to those target groups. </p><p>LSC identified its target groups as employees, distribution lists (internal and external response teams), dynamic groups (created as needed), geographical locations, networked equipment, students, contractors, tenants, and guests. </p><p>LSC also needed to consider its unique status as a commuter college without campus housing. Some students, employees, and guests visit different campus locations more than once throughout the semester. Sending an emergency communication to just one given area would limit the reach of the MNS, and might miss some individuals who are en route and others who want to know what is occurring on any LSC campus.  </p><p>Instead, the system would need to be structured to send emergency messages to all registered users, regardless of their location. This system would be easier for LSC to administer and more desirable for the LSC community. </p><p>LSC also knew that accessibility and inclusion would be key to the success of its MNS. The system would need to be accessible to individuals with physical, sensory, mental health, and cognitive or intellectual disabilities that affect their ability to function independently. </p><p>The system would also need to be inclusive of seniors, those with limited English proficiency, and unaccompanied minors on campus. LSC has dual education programs for high-school students, Discovery College for children during the summer, full- and part-time day care centers, high schools, and public libraries that all provide opportunities for underage guests on campus.  </p><p>To reach these individuals, LSC would need to design its MNS to provide information online and to enroll them through LoneStarAlert. Because minors cannot be asked directly for personal contact information, LSC would have to work with leaders of these various groups to contact parents and guardians—who would then provide the information that then allowed their child to be enrolled in the system. </p><p>LSC also knew that its system would need to reach the public libraries, four-year educational partners, school systems, executive conference centers, and commercial tenants that are a part of its campus. To reach these stakeholders, LSC would have to provide instructions and a means for individuals to self-register in LoneStarAlert. ​</p><h4>choosing the right integrator </h4><p>LSC awarded its initial MNS contract to a local system integrator, Convergint Technologies. They worked together to create LSC’s wide-area MNS, which is used for any hazard or threat that poses an imminent or present danger and requires immediate action. This includes an evacuation, shelter-in-place, or lockdown scenario. Advisories and alerts that do not pose an imminent or present danger are sent out via LSC e-mail. </p><p>LSC’s MNS is deployed using Windows and Microsoft SQL Servers in a secured and high availability environment. The servers are clustered into a shared pool of monitored resources, so if a host fails, the system immediately responds by restarting each affected host from a different host. </p><p>The MNS encodes and decodes audible signals and live-voice messages transmitted across a TCP/IP local area network using voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). LoneStarAlert text, voice mail, and e-mail are delivered using a Web-based application hosted by the provider. </p><p>LSC’s wide-area MNS command system is located at the main administrative offices and is interconnected with each campus’ central control station, comprising the total system.  </p><p>Each campus is classified as a zone, and each building within a zone is considered a sub-zone. Most campuses have sub-zones that are interconnected. This configuration enables activation of prerecorded, live voice, or tone signals that can be sent to a sub-zone, zones, or the total system, providing redundancy throughout the system. </p><p>LSC police dispatch is responsible for immediately distributing voice messages or alert signals. It is authorized—and empowered—to send emergency messages to the affected populations using either prerecorded messages or live messaging via the wide-area MNS and LoneStarAlert.  </p><p>Dispatchers will send an alert when requested by an officer on the scene, or when requested by senior leadership. They will also issue an alert if there is credible information coming to the dispatch center that warrants sending a message. </p><p>As part of its initial installation, LSC included speakers for common areas with signals adjusted so the message could be heard through a closed door. However, the level of noise in the area impacts the level of intelligible voice or tone that can be heard.  </p><p>Additionally, LSC has video displays at all of its campuses where emergency messages are displayed using a digital management system. This ensures that individuals who cannot hear the emergency alerts do not miss them. </p><p>LSC also uses a buddy system where a buddy will help ensure a person with functional needs is supported, and first responders are aware of their last known positions and conditions. This information is then captured—when provided—in each campus fire safety plan. </p><p>As an additional measure, most LSC campus community members have cell phones. This enables those who are deaf or have other hearing impairments to receive emergency text messages and, where available, two-way communications using the Telecommunications Relay Service (TRS).  </p><p>The TRS bridges the communication gap between voice telephone users and people with hearing impairments by allowing users anywhere in the United States to dial 711 to be connected to a TRS operator. The operator then serves as a link for the call, relaying the text of the calling party in voice to the called party, and converting to text what the called party voices back to the calling party. </p><p>Following the initial setup, in-house resources assumed most of the responsibility for supporting the system over a five-year period. However, the system integrator supplements LSC resources.  </p><p>Additional system integrators are also used to provide support for the MNS. Sharing the service responsibilities among multiple vendors provides redundancy in the event a vendor is unable to provide services to one or more of LSC’s locations. ​</p><h4>testing </h4><p>Whether a fire exit drill or a lockdown drill, testing of emergency communications processes and systems is a base requirement. LSC has a rolling three-year sustainability and exercise program that’s part of the LSC Emergency Management Plan, which tests the LoneStarAlert and its MNS. </p><p>In the beginning, some questioned the approach and anticipated backlash from disrupting operations by testing the systems. However, LSC quickly learned that the process built confidence within the community that the school is doing its part to keep its campus safe. </p><p>Testing also gave users who were registered incorrectly and did not receive text message alerts a chance to inform LSC. Users who did receive texts and e-mail alerts could also report how long it took to receive them. </p><p>This helped LSC determine that, on average, more than 95 percent of regis­tered users received text and e-mail alerts within two to three minutes of activation. </p><p>On one occasion when LoneStarAlert was not tested during a larger emergency management drill, LSC received negative feedback, debunking the myth that testing the system during normal operations is viewed negatively. This approach has helped LSC align its MNS with its brand.   </p><p>-- </p><p><em>Denise Walker is chief emergency management officer at Lone Star College System, responsible for policy and direction on emergency management; safety and security audits; fire safety; environment, public health, and safety; and victim advocacy. She serves as the chair of the Greater Houston Local Emergency Planning Committee and is executive member of the Texas Emergency Management Advisory Committee. She is the author of several books, including Mass Notification and Crisis Communications: Planning, Preparedness, and Systems.   ​</em></p>GP0|#cd529cb2-129a-4422-a2d3-73680b0014d8;L0|#0cd529cb2-129a-4422-a2d3-73680b0014d8|Physical Security;GTSet|#8accba12-4830-47cd-9299-2b34a4344465