Expertise of fire/security integrators can enhance school safety

 - 
Monday, March 4, 2013

CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Post-Sandy Hook, fire and security integrators should take the initiative and guide school officials in choosing the right emergency communications solutions, Jeff Martinez, Northeast regional sales manager for Telecor, said in a recent conference call.

“Put yourself in a consultative role as an expert in this environment,” Martinez, who is based here, advised dealers during the call, which centered on emergency communications.

The call was directed to all Telecor dealers on the East Coast who are also providers of fire alarm, CCTV, access control and other services. Telecor is a Canada-based provider of communication products and systems.

Martinez led the January call, which took place about one month after a gunman massacred 20 students and six teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

Since that time, Martinez said, schools have been calling to ask about increasing security “on a pretty regular basis,” but he said schools tend to have “what I would call the Pavlovian response of associating security with access control and CCTV.”

But those measures are only part of the answer to school security, he said. “If you look at this picture from a few steps back, you’ll realize that access control is perimeter prevention, something that’s designed to keep folks out,” Martinez said. “But the issue that we’re talking about here is what to do when they get in.”

He encouraged dealers to guide school officials to “get them to realize that what they’re really asking for is the ability to manage these situations. They want to be proactive in perhaps controlling or directing the events once they’ve begun to take place.”

And that’s where emergency communication becomes vital, he said.

The components of fire alarm and intercom systems, which Martinez said most schools already have in place, can combine to become “a powerful tool” schools can use to “plan the management of a crisis situation as opposed to waiting it out.”

A product Telecor makes, called the Visual Console, which Martinez described as a graphical user interface for the intercom, can help quickly manage crisis situations because it involves easy-to-use icons, he said.

“If there’s an icon that's says tornado, and you know when you click on that icon it’s going to scroll as message across the clock and send out a prerecorded message and maybe send a note to the superintendent’s office, you’ve automatically increased the efficiency and the speed of that response,” he said.