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By Anna Alejo
/ CBS Colorado
It’s a sad truth that schools across Colorado and across the country have to invest time planning how to prevent or respond to large emergencies. The lockdowns and drills that schools engage in can be traumatizing to kids. One Denver metro area school district is responding by refining a silent crisis communication system.
Cherry Creek Schools have deployed a “RedBag” in every classroom with the goal of speeding communication between the classroom and emergency responders.
RedBag Founder Chuck Malott recently provided a demonstration of the RedBag and its contents, saying “This is a bleeding control kit. So this has a tourniquet, an Israeli bandage or an emergency bandage.”
Malott is realistic about the dangers his grandchildren and other students face in the classroom.
He founded RedBag in Colorado and showed a CBS Colorado news crew how it works inside Grandview High School.
Teachers have tools to administer emergency first aid.
And what’s critical – an easy to use QR code – providing location information and opening a secure and silent communication system with incident command during an emergency.
Malott said, “When you’re in a room in the dark with 25 kids not knowing, how do you handle that? I couldn’t handle that for five minutes let alone half an hour or 45 minutes.”
As the in neighboring district Denver Public Schools illustrated, the wait for reliable information during a school emergency is agonizing for students and teachers.
Ian Lopez, Director of Security and Safety for Cherry Creek Schools said, “That two way communication flow has never existed before and for me as a former law enforcement officer, in particular a former SWAT officer – we were always looking for a method to have better information about what to expect inside those rooms.”
Locks, lights out and out of sight. That is what students and teachers are trained to do during a lockdown.
Grandview used the RedBag communication system when a lockdown was triggered accidentally last school year. Classroom teachers reported feeling empowered.
“As soon as we were able to communicate with them after police came in and secured the area, we were able to instantly get information to them and teachers could tell students, students could tell parents – even more quickly than we could get communication out to parents,” said Grandview High School Principal Dr. Lisa Roberts.
When teachers and students know what’s going on, it lessens the psychological impact of the emergency.
“Any sort of traumatic experience, the sooner we can start a recovery process the better,” added Roberts.
While emergency responders can gain command and control.
Lopez said, “From a management perspective, in crisis management we get immediate situational awareness as to where the problems might be, where people are located. That gives us and law enforcement an opportunity to address those rooms first.”
Cherry Creek Schools have conducted hundreds of drills to inform and improve the deployment of RedBag, motivated by the need to reduce the stress and trauma of emergencies on students.
First published on August 11, 2023 / 5:44 PM
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