Making help happen faster during special events

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to be part of the emergency medical services response team deployed to the Ben Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia during the Pope's visit. With an estimated crowd of nearly one million people on the Parkway for more than 12 hours each day, there were nearly non-stop medical emergencies happening all day.

The event organizers were very smart - They realized that when people in this crowd, many of whom were not from Philadelphia, needed help, they would not have a good way to explain where they were. Calling 911 and reporting that you are "in the middle of the crowd" is not very helpful.

In response, the event organizers created Location ID's, much like mile markers you might see on the highway, to help people associate themselves with a location.

Here  you see one of the many Parkway Location signs, well positioned and highly visible from anywhere in the crowd.

Hundreds of emergency services workers stood ready to help and as quickly as people arrived, requests for medical assistance streamed into the 911 center.

And that's where Share911 could have made help happen faster.

Had the attendees been advised to go to on their mobile devices (which everyone had) they could have simply "checked in" by selecting the Parkway Location where they were and indicated what their emergency was.

Instead of those requests going to a 911 operator and being handed off, possibly several times, before emergency response personnel would be made aware of, via radio, an emergency that might be happening right around them, the emergency response workers could have been notified directly by Share911 based on the Parkway Location identifier and responded immediately.

Using Share911 for large scale events can reduce the time it takes for help to arrive. It can make operations more efficient and reduce response time dramatically. Emergency response personnel can indicate that they are responding and leverage the fact that the person who needs help has a mobile device, enabling immediate communication via phone or text to help locate the party. Lastly, using Share911 in this fashion reduces the amount of radio traffic (which was virtually non-stop) required for dispatching and leaves it available for critical patient and transport communications.

Having a major event? Give us a call and let's see how we can make help happen faster, together.




Finding missing students, faster.

During emergencies in schools, accountability for every staff member and student is essential. Often times, however, students are moving between rooms or locations when a lockdown or other emergency is communicated and are by themselves. 

We've seen many instances in which elementary school aged students find themselves in the bathroom or jump into a closet when a lockdown is called. How can we make school administrators or First Responders aware of these unaccounted for students in order to locate them as quickly as possible and protect them?

Share911 makes it easy for any employee to report that they are unable to account for a student and let everyone involved in the emergency be aware of it.

Here we see two students have been reported Missing by Harry Jones, a teacher. As a result, every staff member, every administrator and every First Responder can see that we have two missing students, what room they were in prior to the emergency and where it is located.

If you have information about where a missing student is, you can simply tap or mouse over their card to open it and select "Report Found" or "Report Off-Site" if you know for a fact that the student is not at school today.

If you report the student found, their card immediately moves to the "Found" section of LiveView where everyone can see that the student has been accounted for and is no longer missing.

When a student has been reported missing and their card remains in the Missing section of LiveView, it indicates that the student is most likely by them self. School administrators and First Responders can use Share911 to make immediate contact with the person who reported the student missing to collect additional information about where to search for the student.

Your school can use Share911 Lite at no cost. 

Best Practices: What To Do With Students & Staff Outside of a School in Lockdown

Many schools practice locking down when they know everyone is in the building. Most schools will even avoid calling a lockdown drill when students are moving between classes. 

On the morning of November 13th, 2014 the Share911 training team was onsite at the Valleyview Elementary School in Denville, NJ for a lockdown drill. The training scenario called for a teacher supervising more than 100 students, who were outside of the building for lunch recess, to see a threat approach the students, in this case, a man running towards the students yelling.

The teacher used her personal mobile device to issue a lockdown drill alert via, which immediately alerted the other staff members on the exterior of the building, all of the staff members on the inside of the building, administrators in all district buildings, and the Denville Police Department.

The teachers then began yelling at the students "lockdown, lockdown, lockdown" and did not specify that it was a drill.

This video shows how the students responded. The students at this school have been trained to get to the bus depot across the street if they should be on the exterior of the school. As you can see, that's exactly what they did. 

The plan doesn't end there. Once at the depot, the students are placed on buses and online accountability reports are done via Share911. If it were a real emergency, the buses would have been driven away to remove the students from the scene.

When a threat emerges on the exterior of your building and staff or students are outside, your school has to have a plan to deal with it and quickly. Our hats are off to this school for having a plan and practicing it.

New Jersey Senate Bill 2091

On Governor Chris Christie's desk in Trenton is an important bill intended to improve emergency response to New Jersey public elementary and secondary schools. Senate Bill 2091 requires that each building shall be equipped with at least one panic alarm for use in a school security emergency including, but not limited to, a non-fire evacuation, lockdown, or active shooter situation, the alarm shall not be audible within the school building and each building shall be equipped with an emergency light that is linked to the school's panic alarm and which turns on when the panic alarm is activated.

As a volunteer First Responder in my hometown of Ramsey for over 25 years, I know that the every second counts when an emergency is happening in our schools. Schools in Ramsey, as in most communities, are the highest occupancy buildings we have, often with thousands of employees and students on the scene. The faster police and firefighters can be alerted that an emergency is occurring, the faster they can get there. The FBI recently reported that the median response time for law enforcement to an active shooter event is three minutes. For people inside the building, those three minutes will seem like three hours. 

Once on the scene, police and firefighters have to find the threat, rescue the trapped and treat the injured as fast as possible. Unfortunately Senate Bill 2091 doesn't seem to help with that critical component of emergency response to our schools. A single panic button may alert First Responders that something is happening at the school, but it does little to show them where they need to go when they get there.

In February of 2013, we took a vastly different approach to improving emergency response to schools, by creating, a social network just for emergencies. It enables every school administrator and employee to use their smart phone, tablet or computer to directly alert police and firefighters, but instead of just one "panic button" every employee has one on their phone. And enables every employee to share their exact location in the building and what is happening where they are, identifying where the threat was last seen, where people are in need of rescue and where injured persons are located. This information is displayed in real-time for First Responders and for everyone in the building, to enable them to see what is happening around them.

We urge Governor Chris Christie to sign this bill into law because one panic button is better than no panic buttons, but we encourage New Jersey schools to explore more robust solutions such as to give First Responders the tools they need to do their job.

Reality Check(-in)

I have been a volunteer First Responder in my hometown of Ramsey, New Jersey since 1985. I ride with the Ramsey Rescue Squad, which performs what are known as “heavy rescue” services, including extricating people from cars, rescuing people trapped by debris or a fire and virtually any situation involving the need to be rescued.

Last night, I participated in a training scenario during which we practiced searching an empty house during a simulated fire. Once we arrived on the scene, my crew donned our turnout gear, put on our self-contained breathing apparatus, grabbed tools that might be helpful for forcing open doors and in our free hand, carried a very large flashlight. Our assignment: search the basement of this small two story wood-frame house for victims.

To simulate smoke conditions, the face masks of the breathing apparatus were covered in wax paper, which does a very good job of simulating a moderate smoke condition.

We arrived at the front door of the structure and were told that our job was to find and search the basement. And since we were simulating fire conditions, that search is performed on your hands and knees, while carrying the aforementioned equipment, keeping track of your team, remembering which way you came in (so you know how to get out) and, of course, figuring out how to get to the basement in a place you have never been before. As this house was empty, the path from the front door to the basement stairs was fairly clear. In reality, we would make our way through furniture and debris, not to mention the smoke and flames.

Each of us backed our way down the small wooden staircase on our hands and knees into the darkness of the basement, which was divided into several small rooms and spaces. Each team member searched in either direction, following the wall while reaching out with their opposite arm and tool to feel for victims. My job was to stay at the foot of the basement staircase to guide the team back and be ready to assist them. In a real fire situation, conditions can change in an instant and being in the basement means you likely have one means of egress, the staircase you came down. You might also actually find a victim, who you will have to carry or drag up the stairs and back out the front door.

As I watched my crew search, I thought about why were were searching in the first place — we’re looking for victims who need to be rescued, people who were likely conscious when the fire started, became trapped and then overcome by the heat or smoke. Everyday, firefighters and rescue teams arrive at emergencies with the need to search for people in need rescue, but it’s a terribly inefficient process.

As the CEO of a technology company that has built a solution ( that is dramatically improving this process, I am grateful that I am not just a “start-up founder” but a practitioner who can spend his Thursday night in his turnout gear, carrying tools and searching the basement, to experience the exact problem we set out to solve.

How do we solve it? Simple. We connect the people inside the building with the first responders who show up to rescue them. Share911 is an emergency social network that enables the people who are trapped to use their mobile device to check-in and share their exact location inside the building with the firefighters and rescue personnel who can now see exactly where they need to go, instead of searching blind, reducing the time it will take to get to them while reducing unnecessary risk for the first responders.

If You See Something, Share911 Something

Today, we are proud to introduce a new feature of school safety solution which is called "Report". This new feature empowers all of the people in your schools ecosystem, employees, students and even parents, to react by reporting suspicious activity, persons or vehicles or observe hazardous conditions. 

For example, an employee or student arriving at school and observing a suspicious person in the parking lot can easily report that to the school Emergency Response Team, right from their mobile device.

photo (36).PNG

Each member of the School Emergency Response Team (ERT) is alerted electronically via text and email that an incident report has been created and can indicate if they are responding to the incident.

Text alert to lock screen

Text alert to lock screen

Text alert detail with link

Text alert detail with link

The members of the school Emergency Response Team can then determine the course of action which should be followed. If they believe the person is a threat, they can immediately issue a lockdown alert via Share911 to separate as many people as they can from the threat, while simultaneously notifying their local law enforcement personnel via Share911.

The Report feature is part of our Enterprise package. Our existing customers will see it appear on their networks in the next week or so, all new customers will have Report enabled from day one.

How Does This Make Sense?

In most schools, when a lockdown is called due to an active-shooter, teachers and employees are trained to:

  1. Lock their door
  2. Turn off the lights
  3. Get out of the line of sight of the door or windows
  4. Remain quiet
  5. Silence anything that can make noise.

Most active-shooter protocols contain the same advice: implement lockdown procedures, minimize the target profile, and wait for the police to neutralize the threat. Teachers, students and other occupants of the building should hide quietly, lock or barricade doors and turn off lights that make attract the shooter's attention.

But in some schools, there is an additional step that teachers and employees are trained to perform and that is to affix one of these color-coded pieces of paper to the window or slide it under the door.

  1. Use the red card if everything is not okay or help is needed.
  2. Use the green card if everything is okay.

Affixing these cards to classroom and office doors seems to contradict all of the other lockdown techniques which are designed to minimize the target profile. If a shooter can't see if anyone is in the room and the door is locked, perhaps they will not take the time necessary to force entry to find a target.

But if the shooter sees a red or green card, they know one thing: people are in that room because somebody put that card on the window.

We are told that the intention of these cards is to let First Responders quickly access the situation in each room as they search the building, but until the threat is located and neutralized, First Responders aren't going to concern themselves with these cards, they have a single mission and that is to find the shooter.

Teachers and school employees tell us that they share our concern with the red card/green card technique. Teachers believe that placing these cards in windows contradicts the purpose of the lockdown and that they reveal that the room being made to appear unoccupied is actually occupied.

The Share911 Emergency Information System embraces the concept and intention of these cards - that sharing information with First Responders is indeed helpful, but we want it done privately, without revealing information to the threat.

Using Share911, teachers and employees can share real-time information directly with First Responders, right from their own mobile device or a computer (as long as it is out of the line of sight), not just letting First Responders know if everything is "okay" or "not okay" but actually showing them the last known location of the threat, reducing the time it will take for police to find and neutralize it.

What Will You Do With Your Three Minutes?

In a major step forward for emergency preparedness and school safety, NJASA & The SHARE911Network have partnered to bring a school safety tool to schools!  

NJASA Executive Director Dr. Richard Bozza said, "The SHARE911 Network function is extremely beneficial and certainly prepares New Jersey’s learning environments for the unexpected. The ability for teachers and others to use smart phones, computers and iPad tablets to transmit their locations and statuses immediately to school, local and police officials is extremely valuable for all New Jersey residents.”