The challenge: Provide an emergency notification solution for one of the largest school districts in Tennessee
When Sevier County School System decided to improve its emergency response procedures, officials realized this was a potentially daunting task. The school district, spread across the eastern Tennessee foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, is one of the largest in the state. Sevier County schools extend almost 600 miles, include four high schools and 35 buildings and are supported by four independent law enforcement agencies.
Quick Facts: Sevier County School System
- Location: Eastern TN in and around the Great Smoky Mountains
- Grades: Pre-K through 12
- Number of students: 14,500
- Number of staff: More than 2,000
- Number of school buildings: 35
- Size of the county: 598 square miles
School superintendent Dr. Jack Parton knew the safety of students, teachers and staff was top priority.The school system needed to:
- Invest wisely and confidently in a proven solution
- Improve safety factors system-wide with one cohesive platform
- Gain consensus on the appropriate solution from multiple parties beyond the school system, including supporting law enforcement jurisdictions and the community as a whole
Sevier County Schools turned to Central Technologies of Knoxville to help the district find the best solution. Central Technologies has worked with the school system for years, supplying everything from desktops and laptops to handheld devices and on-site tech support, explained Gary Rohrer, VP of Technical Solutions at Central Technologies in Knoxville, Tennessee. Rohrer specifically looked for a system that could by-pass 911 and directly contact on-duty police officers. This project marked Central Technologies and Response Technologies’ first partnership.
“Response Technology’s solution immediately stood apart because they already had a strong relationship with law enforcement. For me, that meant a built-in level of trust,” Rohrer said. Response Technologies, located in Cincinnati, Ohio, is recognized for building the world’s fastest duress and emergency response systems in addition to offering an evolving portfolio of emergency notification solutions.
The proposed solution
The solution began with a presentation not only to Sevier County Schools, but also to individuals representing Tennessee highway patrol, four local police jurisdictions and two local 911 call centers. The school system wanted these key agencies involved early in the decisions process. In a matter of weeks of the initial request, Response Technologies had carefully mapped out a holistic emergency notification solution for the expansive school facilities and corresponding law enforcement support.
Decreased response time: With Centurion Elite®, responders are notified within seconds of alarm activation. The D2R™ communication bypasses the 911 center and goes straight to police responders via two-way radios.
Flexibility for multiple locations: The award-winning Centurion Elite® works with the Centurion® Gateway, which is designed specifically for schools like Sevier County that need emergency notification solutions at multiple locations. The Centurion® Gateway works with the school’s established IT infrastructure to relay wireless alarms to the Centurion® Elite®. When connected to Sevier County School’s network, Centurion® Gateway acts as a router, receiving and forwarding any alarm across the LAN.
“Organizations like Sevier County Schools can use the Centurion® Gateway with a single Centurion® Elite system to protect people in multiple locations. The single user interface allows simple management of multiple sites without concern about geographical boundaries,” said Matt Volkerding, vice president of sales for Response Technologies.
Sevier County schools initially ordered Response Technologies’ PC Duress® for 150 users. This software runs in the background on computers throughout the district. With a single keystroke, school officials can send a pre-recorded emergency message to the law enforcement agency closest to that particular school facility. Sevier County Schools has also implemented a second phase with wireless duress buttons. These installed duress buttons communicate using the same transmitter. School officials simply press the button to relay a pre-set message to police. The schools currently have 40 in place and plan to expand those numbers.
Partnership with local law enforcement
Sevier County School system’s multiple police agencies have responded with enthusiasm to the Centurion Elite®. “They immediately recognized that this was a great solution,” Rohrer said. In fact, the police departments have supplied the Motorola digital radios to use with the system. “This direct-to-the-responder system with the digital radios significantly shortens response time. As we all know, response time is everything in emergency situations,” Rohrer added.
Response Technologies and Central Technologies installed the initial system a week after approval. All parts were installed, testing and working within only a few short months of the initial request with all invested parties onboard.
“Whenever you sell a solution that’s new to you and new to the customer, you can run into problems. Response Technologies was great. They worked closely with school officials from start to end. They were always there during the testing to make sure the installation went seamlessly,” Rohrer said, adding that school officials are particularly pleased. “The system is doing what it’s supposed to. Hopefully we’ll never have to use it!”
How Central Technologies in partnership with Response Technologies delivered for Sevier County Schools
The partnership between Central Technologies and Response Technologies, along with strong leadership at Sevier County School System and early participation from members of four law enforcement jurisdictions across the county (three city departments and one county department), enabled all parties to work collaboratively to develop a solution that would meet the needs of this expansive school district.
“The Centurion Elite Platform allows schools to modify solutions to fit their needs, all while providing the fastest emergency response available,” said Volkerding.
“While there are common issues most schools will face, we recognize that every school district is unique and faces distinctive challenges,” Volkerding added. “That’s one of the reasons Response Technologies works with districts to identify potential issues and to customize solutions that best fit those needs.”