Text Messaging and Lockdowns
by Peter Scott, BA DipT(Sec) Grad. Dip. Ed.Admin.,
Director Education Strategy and Services, MGM Wireless
Disclaimer: This Information should not contravene or replace guidelines provided to schools by their relevant governing authorities. Schools should check with these authorities before modifying their existing practices.
THE PURPOSE OF EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS
- To ensure safety.
- To restore order - avoiding confusion and panic.
- To withstand public scrutiny after the event.
EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION CHECKLIST
Consider the following:
- What information is required by each person affected by the emergency?
- What is the proper sequence of communications?
- What is the most effective and efficient communication method to deliver information in the time required?
- Is there an audit trail of critical communications?
THE TEXT MESSAGING OPTION
SMS text messaging offers some very specific advantages over other methods:
- High Speed short messages to thousands of recipients in a matter of minutes.
- The capacity to prepare in advance the wording of communications and the list of recipients.
- It is relatively inexpensive.
- It provides an audit trail of all sent and received messages.
- It leaves phone lines available for other important communication.
- The speed of communication allows pre-emptive action on the part of the school, thereby minimizing confusion and panic.
- It is immune to intervention by third parties, and cannot be corrupted.
- Message sending is inconspicuous.
- Keep mobile phone numbers up to date. * (This is the topic of a separate MGM White Paper)
- Ensure there is an alternative communication method if a mobile number is not available.
- Create separate mobile phone book(s) in messageyou™Schools for specific groups of people who should be sent a text message in an emergency.
- Create a number of draft emergency message templates, which sit in the Draft box in messageyou™Schools to be quickly used, knowing the wording has been carefully constructed to avoid confusion.
- Ensure there are multiple staff members who have practiced sending manual or broadcast messages and replied to received text messages.
- Establish a clear chain of command, so all staff know when and by whom messages should be sent.
- Prepare parents and other potential recipients so they know what to expect.
- Ensure staff, students and parents all have the school’s virtual mobile phone number stored in their mobile phone contacts screen – so they know the emergency message is authentic.
Peter Scott has also prepared a detailed whitepaper that also includes a sample emergency communication plan. If you would like a copy of this paper, please fill in the form below.