Safety and security programs depend on getting the right information to the right people in the right place at the right time so individuals can make better decisions.
Recently, a story involving several schools in Missouri provided multiple lessons learned involving safety.
The situation started when a national alert from the FBI was sent out to law enforcement on a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The Missouri School Board Association, who operates the Missouri Alert Network, then issued an alert to schools at 11:50am saying the national alert targeted a Missouri School and as a result three schools in Missouri went into lock down. The Missouri Alert Network sent a second alert less than an hour later saying there was no threat.
A couple lessons learned:
- General information is not necessarily the right information. General information does not usually provide the type of specific details that individuals will need to make better decisions.
- Mass notifications should be accurate or they should clearly be a test because we as human beings will learn to disregard future mass notifications if initial notifications are perceived to be general information that does not apply to our organization or our safety.
A local police chief said they decided to be proactive and sent the alert message to “make sure the students, and the staff and the parents and everybody knew that we were aware of the issue and were on top of it”. Perhaps another lesson learned here is there is no need to cause parents, students and staff the unnecessary stress and concern just to make sure they know law enforcement is on top of a situation.
Safety and security is complex and difficult and requires a lot of work and trust, so making sure the right information gets to the right people in the right place at the right time is critical to ensure people take the right actions.