Friday, 03 August 2012 00:00
On Thursday, July 27, officials at Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage hosted Project SAFEguard, an educational program that will be rolled out to local school administration. It is a program of the Applied Science Foundation for Homeland Security (ASFHS), a member of the Long Island Forum for Technology (LIFT) family of companies.
Project SAFEguard is a program developed in response to New York State’s regulations, including the “Safe Schools Against Violence in Education Act” (SAVE) and revised regulations of the commissioner of education mandating schools to have sound safety plans.
LIFT, ASFHS and its participating research partners, have joined forces to create a step-by-step plan-of-action to ensure and foster area schools’ compliance with SAVE. Project SAFEguard was designed in a modular format to facilitate effective implementation in phases. This comprehensive program includes three basic modules and three optional modules.
The basic modules cover everything from an assessment of a school’s existing SAVE documents, procedures and physical security, to the application of enhanced architectural drawings, identification of critical assets, material safety data sheets and emergency management plans. It also covers the design and implementation of sound safety drills for lockdowns, lockouts, sheltering and evacuation which are conducted with multiple agencies.
Through the optional modules, districts can further enhance their schools’ safety by participating in Project SAFEguard’s iCommunity, a district website which community members can inform district officials of incidents on their district’s property. This also enables a connection to local law enforcement and the monitoring of a district’s security and technology infrastructure.
“A lot of what happens with a plan is that schools take a boilerplate plan that has been sent to them by regulatory authorities, they fill in the blanks and they consider themselves as having a plan,” Michael Griffin, Strategic Planning Partners (SPP) director of emergency preparedness explained. “A true emergency preparedness plan is a dynamic, living document that needs to reflect the accurate roles and responsibilities of people within [the] organization.”
Griffin said the emergency plan should outline who is responsible in a situation; it should specify down to the details of where keys are located, where students are assembled in any emergency situation and most importantly, the plan should be current.
This specialized, modular system provides a real time application that can be utilized by multiple public agencies including school districts, Nassau County and the private police departments, fire departments, towns and villages. It provides a step-by-step plan-of-action to ensure and foster area schools’ compliance with SAVE and respond to natural or man-made emergencies.
Project SAFEguard was designed as an interactive and dynamic emergency management system that conforms to and enhances the requirements of NYS emergency preparedness mandates.
ASFHS President Frank Otto said that today’s school administrators and educators face tremendous challenges in keeping schools a safe haven for their students; what may have been sufficient in school safety for past generations no longer is.
Nassau County Edward Mangano served as the program’s keynote speaker. He addressed some of the issues facing emergency management practices today and how they impact on school safety.
In addition to customized plans for grade schools and colleges, Project SAFEguard also accommodates planning for municipalities, hospitals, sporting venues, utilities infrastructure and hotel properties.
The ASFHS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that focuses on accelerating the transfer of technology into end-user-driven products and systems in support of first responders and other homeland security personnel, accomplished by creating a “living lab” environment in the Morrelly Homeland Security Center – which is the first, and only one, of its kind privately-owned homeland security C4I facility – that allows for unprecedented collaboration between the public and private sectors.
Participating Project SAFEguard researchers include: GEOCommand, LIFT, V.C.O.R.E., SPP, Impact, and CCSI. For more information visit http://www.projectsafeguard.com/.
Christy Hinko contributed to this article.