Local districts all across the country have been performing active-shooter training drills for years now, but Owensboro Public Schools has taken that training one step further. Implemented this school year, OPS now uses Crisis Go — a safety platform allowing the entire district to manage crisis situations through emergency alerting.
Crisis Go is an app that has been installed on every teacher and staff member’s computer, alerting them of crisis situations occurring within, or near, OPS schools. Educators and administrators can also download the app on their personal cell phones to be alerted of bomb threats, active shooters, police activity happening near schools and other emergency situations.
“This is all about preparing yourself for four minutes until safety personnel can come,” said Director of Transportation, District Athletics and Energy Management Chris Gaddis. “No matter how many radios and cell phones we carry with us, you still have to communicate one-on-one in these situations.”
Gaddis called Crisis Go and the additional training OPS has taken to prepare for emergency situations extremely important practices that must be taken seriously.
In the case of an active shooter, for example, Crisis Go will send a tone out to select front office workers, principals and vice principals at OPS schools. That tone can then be forwarded to teachers and other staff members, including bus drivers. Even substitute teachers will be included in the lineup of those who receive alerts.
The tone will immediately give everyone who receives it the option to call emergency dispatch and will inform administrators to lock down the building(s) if necessary. Gaddis said the alerts can be sent to one school or to the entire district, depending on the situation.
“That emergency tone escalates back to us,” Gaddis said. “We could put buildings on lockdown wherever we are. It’s our intent not to scare the students, but we’ve got to practice these things.”
A team that Gaddis put together to monitor Crisis Go can also activate checklists for different schools across the district, making sure each one has performed their required fire drills and other safety training procedures.
Currently, OPS is working to make sure all the kinks have been sorted out, but the system has been up and running since OPS’s opening day ceremony.
“It’s tailored to our district — if an employee is on our payroll, it matches up to them,” he said.
The Kentucky Department of Education is endorsing Crisis Go, Gaddis said. Other counties across the state and nation have already been using the system for some time.
Superintendent Nick Brake said, with all things, it might take a couple of false starts to get the program running smoothly, but he believes it will add a much-appreciated extra layer of security.
“We’re building the plane and flying it, so there’s going to be some hiccups. But it’s going to be a great tool once it’s fully implemented,” he said.