In Frisco ISD, the safety and security of students is our top priority.
“You feel a little bit helpless sometimes as a parent,” acknowledged mother of two Belinda Marshall. “You put your kids in the hands of teachers and administrators each day when you drop them off at school and trust that they are safe.”
Marshall says she finds comfort in a program known as S.A.F.E.R. or Situational Awareness for Emergency Response.
“It definitely puts my mind at ease,” she said.
S.A.F.E.R. is a partnership between Frisco ISD and the City of Frisco that gives police, firefighters and emergency responders live access to cameras inside and outside all 56 FISD schools, including those in Plano, McKinney and Little Elm.
“It really allows us to be ahead of the game,” said Frisco Police Department Sergeant Brad Merritt. “If something is happening at a school, we can plan in real time and identify the best way to address the situation and minimize any damage.”
Should an emergency occur, first responders have immediate access to campus floor plans, photos, contact information and much more from inside their squad cars, fire trucks and ambulances.
Before the S.A.F.E.R. program, first responders relied on paper maps, lists and documents. Now they simply pull up a software program on mobile data computers.
“We could see if students were running down the hallway, if there was smoke, confusion or someone was in the building,” said Frisco Fire Department Battalion Chief Shaw Eft. “The ability to assess the situation and know what we’re headed into would be invaluable in an actual emergency.”
To help coordinate prevention and response activities, the Frisco Fire Department also participates in an annual S.A.F.E.R. drill on each campus. The drill is held in addition to other school safety drills.
“We work through the kinks, how we can better communicate and what the processes are,” said Hunt Middle School Principal Gary Nye. “We try to prepare and think through every situation and make adjustments when necessary.”
The award-winning S.A.F.E.R. program launched in 2009, after the City’s Information Technology Services (ITS) Department spent a year on research, data integration and development of the software.
Frisco ISD invested an initial $400,000 to help get the project off the ground, while City employees spent significant man-hours preparing, training and updating the program. The District allocates an additional $68,000 each year for maintenance.
“It’s nice to know we have that extra measure of support in case we ever need it,” Nye said. “In an emergency situation, every second counts. We can’t stop bad things from happening, but we can control how prepared we are for those kinds of circumstances.”
- The S.A.F.E.R. program is just one part of Frisco ISD’s ongoing commitment to safety and security on all of our campuses. We invite you to read more about those efforts on pages 15 and 16 of the 2012-2013 State of the Schools Report.
- You can also watch a recent report by NBC5 on the S.A.F.E.R. program.