School to text, email emergency notices

By Arielle Maxner

A new emergency system will be used this year to alert students, faculty and parents in case of crises. 

The system will simultaneously email, call and text parents, students and faculty in emergencies, Head of Security Jim Crawford said. In the case of a lockdown, “we will continue to send everyone information on what to do or where to go,” he said.

Called a reverse 911, the system is currently operational. A text message was sent out to all faculty and staff members Tuesday, Aug. 30, and soon, “everyone will be notified via a text,” Crawford said.

“The systems can send 6,000 messages in 20 seconds,” Crawford said.

Head of Upper School Harry Salamandra said that the idea behind the reverse 911 is that “you can send or broadcast a message to literally your whole community, everybody that you have the telephone number for.” 

The reverse 911 is replacing the old telephone tree system, in which a few people were responsible for calling other people. 
“For instance, a department chair, let’s say Laurence Weber, would call all the English teachers, that kind of a thing,” Salamandra said. “And then, the parents would be notified and they had their own telephone tree. There was a whole group of parents that, in years past, were charged with making calls and then passing that on and then so on down the line that people would help.”

“We are hopeful about it,” Salamandra said. “I think it’s going to be a good thing to have, and I think we will be able to quickly notify our community, our families, our faculty and  our staff, what’s going on in case there is an emergency. Hopefully, we will never have to use it – that’s the best case scenario, to never have to use it. But, in reality, I’m sure there will be an occasion where we would be glad to have this service.”

Salamandra described different situations in which the system would be utilized, such as earthquakes, fires and floods. 

“We would be able to notify all of the faculty, the staff,  all the families that this is what we are doing or this is what you need to know about this particular situation,” Salamandra said. “If an earthquake happens in the middle of the day, how do you get information out to the parents? That’s not an easy thing to do necessarily. However, if you have a system like this, we feel like it would be advantageous to send critical information in a quick, easy way.”

To ensure that the information can be sent out to everyone, “we are asking everyone to make sure the school has any new cell numbers and home numbers,” Crawford said.

The company responsible for the emergency system is Send Word Now.