West Milford schools join the trend and add remote lockdown system Share911

Security software that allows school staff to quickly communicate and receive updates in an emergency will be installed in West Milford schools in September. The district joins the 100 other regional districts already using the system.

The Share911 system from Ramsey-based On Scene Technologies will cost the West Milford schools about $20,000 for 2018-19, records show.

The software-based system allows staff to trigger lockdowns remotely via internet-connected devices. Share911 also allows staff to communicate the location of a security threat or medical emergency and related information to other staff and emergency service dispatchers on desktops, tablets, and smartphones, said Raymond Bailey, chief operating officer and retired Ramsey deputy police chief.

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Local districts talk security

School shootings in recent years and a recent lockdown at a local school has people questioning the lockdown policy and procedures.

Superintendent Robert Indihar of the Moose Lake School provided answers to some pressing questions regarding lockdowns and safety procedures at Moose Lake.

“With a threat from inside we want them to lock their doors. We communicate by intercom and software called ‘Share 911.’ All staff are to report to Share 911 during a lockdown."

Through Share 911, the local police are notified. If information should not be communicated via the intercom, administrative staff can use Share 911 to transmit information as well.

Ridgewood Public Schools Reflect on Share911

 Paul Semendinger, Ed.D.

Paul Semendinger, Ed.D.

At the time that Dr. Paul Semendinger was introduced to Share911, the app had only been used in one or two districts. But from the beginning, he thought it was a great idea. As Principal of Hawes Elementary School in Ridgewood, “school safety is taken very seriously,” says Dr. Semendinger. And while it took some time to get used to, implementing Share911 is now an integral part of what they do.

When asked what feature he likes the most, Dr. Semendinger says it’s “the fact that there’s a simple and efficient way for everyone to stay in communication during a drill. No longer are kids running to the front of the school with attendance lists. Everyone is tied together through the same network and we can quickly assess the situation.”

While he describes the app as “intuitive,” he also ensures that his faculty and staff are using it properly. Even when in drill mode, he will check to make sure every staff member has checked in and will follow up with them if not. The purpose is to reiterate that they are expected to do so in the event of a real scenario.

Dr. Daniel Fishbein, Superintendent of Ridgewood School District, says that the reactions of teachers and students have been “very positive.”

“The fact that we have to do these drills is very frightening, but it allows us to give some comfort that they’re not alone during these emergencies,” acknowledges Fishbein.

Both Superintendent and Principal agree that Erik Endress and his team have been willing to take suggestions when it comes to the app and are always available if there are ever any questions.

“Erik has been nothing but kind and generous with his time and thoughts,” says Dr. Semindinger.

Ultimately Dr. Semendinger believes that Share911 only brings positive results to the security measures that they take. Throughout each and every drill (which can happen on a monthly basis), Share911 has worked efficiently and did exactly what it was supposed to do.

Endress credits both the district and the Ridgewood Police Department for the success of the program.

“Dr. Fishbein and Chief Luthcke have been amazing partners for us since the beginning. For this to really work well, that’s what we need, district administrators who are willing to change the way they manage emergencies and a law enforcement leader who sees the benefit of what the software can do to improve response time, officer safety and save lives. That’s what we have in Ridgewood and we appreciate it very much.”

Ramapo Indian Hills Improves Response Time With Share911

It’s been three years since the Ramapo Indian Hills school district made the decision to use Share911 as a part of their security system. When Security Director, Charles Wolff, made the recommendation to Superintendent, Beverly Mackay, it was clear that it would be an asset to their crisis plan. This was reinforced by the New Jersey school security task force put together in 2015 that resulted in a list of 42 recommendations. The second recommendation on the list was to improve response time in emergency situations. And the third was to enable all school security personnel to communicate directly to emergency responders. Wolff says it was important to the district that they find something to implement that could achieve that and Share911 passed the test.

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, Wolff says that the app has even more value “because it provides a measurement of reassurance”, especially for the teachers he works with.

Wolff is a big believer in empowering people in the event of a safety emergency and Share911 allows him to do so. He’s given everyone in the building the ability to activate an alert, and with good reason.

“We’re looking for the earliest opportunity to detect a threat or crisis and obviously to notify the masses and the police as quickly as possible,” says Wolff.

While some teachers may initially be hesitant to accept this amount of responsibility, Wolff acknowledges that it involves a lot of training, something that Erik and Ray never fail to provide. Not only was training administered when Share911 was first implemented, but they continue to send out videos and resource documents to ensure that every teacher is up to date. Plus, they’ve recently introduced option-based protocols so that their employers are aware there’s not a one size fits all solution.

“We’re not telling them that locking down is the only thing to do. We want them to make the best decision, which could be evacuating, it could be locking down and barricading the door, or attempting to prepare a plan if they gain access,” explains Wolff. “If we’re going to empower our people, they all have to have the ability to see something and react accordingly.”

Both Mackay and Wolff instill that trust into their teachers, while also reinforcing that there is no way to mistakenly activate an alert.

Currently, the app is used twice a month for drills, whether it be a lockdown, fire drill, or medical emergency. Luckily it hasn’t been used in an active shooter situation, but there have been other instances where the app has been helpful.

Mackay says she would easily recommend the app to other districts and she’s been especially impressed with Erik and Ray’s customer service. She’s even made a few recommendations that they’ve taken into consideration.

“They’re all about client-serving and making sure it benefits the user,” she says.

Over the years, Wolff has learned that school faculty wants information and as much transparency as they can get during an emergency because it provides a sense of comfort. If only for this reason, Share911 adds a significant value to their security protocol.

High Point school officials weigh new security measures

High Point Regional High School officials are considering ramping up security by adding a vestibule and increasing the number of security officers at the school permitted to carry firearms, a couple of the ideas floated at a community security forum held at the school Tuesday night.

The forum, which was attended by about 70 members of the public, brought together law enforcement officials including Sussex County Prosecutor Francis Koch, Newton Police Chief Michael Richards, and Sussex County Sheriff Michael Strada as part of a panel that also included High Point staff members and a High Point student.

The discussion, moderated by School Safety and Security Director Kevin Craig, came the same day that an armed teenage assailant in Maryland wounded two students there and nearly five weeks after the shocking deaths of 17 people at the hands of a gunman who opened fire at a high school in Parkland, Fla.

To facilitate those efforts, Craig said the school district has partnered with a software company called Share911 that enables staff members to share real-time information in an emergency

Cape schools enacting new emergency response

The school district is learning a new emergency response plan that trains staff and students to be more proactive when facing potential threats such as armed intruders.

The plan, known as ALICE, is an acronym for “alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate,” and instructs individuals to take action when a threat is posed, rather than taking a passive approach as previously practiced in lockdown drills.

School staff already have an application downloaded on their phones and computers called Share911 which allows them to quickly communicate with one another about what is going on and which students are in their care during emergencies.

Cedar Grove BOE seeks to hone responses to threats made against students, faculty

Can our schools be better protected?

As with other school districts, the Cedar Grove Board of Education is examining its security policies and procedures in the wake of the Parkland, Florida, school massacre along with a string of alleged threats in New Jersey, including directed at the township and its public schools.

After emerging from a closed session on Tuesday, March 6, about policy “relative to school safety and security,” the board heard from retired Ramsey Deputy Police Chief Raymond Bailey.

Sparta Board of Education's Budget Presentation Draws Active Audience

Danielle, a teacher in another district and a Sparta parent told the board members and administrators “a lot of panic could have been avoided…it would have been more effective if you had communicated with parents through Genesis right away” after the Parkland, Florida school shooting.

She handed out information about Share 911, a way for districts to communicate directly to teachers.  “It could be helpful for teachers to know more information about what is happening via text or a yellow screen on a smart board.”

Franklin Township Schools Have Established Emergency Management Plans in Place, Superintendent Says

In recent months we have added two new security systems to further protect our staff and students. The first, called “Lobby Guard”, conducts immediate background checks on those visiting our schools helping to ensure those visitors do not pose a threat to our students. The latest system to be introduced is a close loop communication system called “Share 911” which is intended to open a direct line of communication between law enforcement, district staff and administrators in the event of an emergency.

Bergen County Resident Creates System To Reduce Emergency Response Time

A longtime volunteer first responder with the Ramsey Rescue Squad and a recipient of the prestigious New York City Heroism and Bravery Award, he knows how critical minutes -- and even seconds -- are during an emergency. And so, in 2013, he createdShare911.com to make help happen faster by reducing the time it takes for first responders to know that they need to respond and for people to help each other while waiting for help to arrive.

The Share911 system is not a substitute for 911 calls, but rather, a powerful tool that empowers co-workers to help each other and make more informed decisions to protect themselves while police, fire or EMS are en route, he explained.

Security gets new scrutiny across Maine in wake of attacks

Three Portland-area school districts are working together to add a “panic button” on teacher computers or phones, according to Craig Worth, deputy chief operations officer at Portland Public Schools. The Portland, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth districts are planning to begin using new software, called Share911, that allows a teacher to alert others to a threat – whether it’s a medical emergency or a lockdown situation. It goes to first responders, such as police or fire departments, as well as other teachers on the network. It also works in reverse, so emergency personnel can notify an entire school of an emergency at once.

“We’re constantly looking over our plan and updating it,” Worth said of the district’s security plan. He said they have briefed school administrators on Share911, and hope to have it in place by fall 2016.

Meet the technology that is changing school security

"I can say that this system was a great asset as the school was placed in lockdown by me when we realized that the threat was heading in the direction of the school," Casaletto said. No danger ever reached the school and the suspect was arrested later that night.

This system, Share911, can be found in hundreds of schools nationwide, including 79 buildings in Monmouth and Ocean counties. It was developed by OnScene Technologies Inc., a Ramsey, N.J.-based start-up led by Adrian Lanning, a developer who built the program, Ray Bailey, a former deputy police chief, and Erik Endress, a 30-year volunteer firefighter.