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Bangor schools enhance safety with Centegix CrisisAlert system | #schoolsaftey

BANGOR, Maine — School shootings and gun violence are an epidemic in America. Parents who once regarded schools as a haven for their kids to learn and play are waking up to the reality that someday their kids’ safety can be compromised.

This is also a reminder for school administrators to make safety a top priority for the schools they manage.

Recent school shootings at UNC-Chapel Hill, Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, and in the distant past, Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, are reminders of vulnerabilities within school safety systems.

Bangor’s school district has incorporated the use of the Centegix CrisisAlert system since the beginning of the year, which allows employees to wear badges with buttons that can initiate an emergency response in time of need. The system was adopted to ensure that crises at any level can be responded to and averted quickly.

Bangor School District Superintendent James Tager said the continued surge of school shootings was the main reason to get the alert system.

“What happened in Uvalde Texas, that was the biggest wake-up call for me. Through my years as an educator, it always bothers you. I don’t know why that one bothered me more. Maybe because it was elementary,” Tager said.

Tager added he and his staff are continuing to adjust security protocols to best keep students safe.

The Bangor School District requires staff from custodians to principals to everyone in between to wear the CrisisAlert badges, either on their lanyards or around the waist. The badges are approximately the size of a credit card.

Multiple pushes of a button on the badges will trigger a wave of visual and auditory alerts to be sent out immediately.

The Centegix AlertSystem connects to 911, and because of this, school administrators are in constant contact with crisis responders once the system is activated. Emergency responders typically respond within minutes.

Should there be an issue that can be resolved in-house, such as fights or mental health situations, staff should push the button on the badge three times. If a situation escalates to the point of a crisis, like an intruder or gunman invading the school premises or buildings, staff should push the button on the badges multiple times. That will notify school safety teams and emergency responders to get into lockdown mode and operation immediately.

In a lockdown situation, strobe lights would flash throughout the school and messages would be sent to students through their laptops. Announcements may be given over the school’s intercom by the use of the system.

Sgt. Jason McAmbley is the public information officer with the Bangor Police Department. McAmbley has one message for parents, he said, who tend to mobilize to the scene during crisis situations at schools.

“Stand back and let us do our jobs,” McAmbley expressed.

To help prepare students to cope with emergency situations, Superintendent Tager said emergency drills are conducted periodically with assistance from counselors guiding students to deal with the emotional toll these situations cause.

“It’s kind of a fine line because you have special education students, and students that are very young, you don’t want to necessarily scare. Ray [Phinney] and I are going to go out to the schools, and personally get on the intercom and say, ‘It’s superintendent here, we want to see how well you all perform based on this specific drill,'”Tager expressed.

Students and parents are not given the emergency alert badges. However, parents are notified of emergencies by text messages to their smartphones.

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