March 26th, 2019

An active shooter drill for staff members at an elementary school in Indiana drew fire recently when it was revealed that teachers were shot with Airsoft guns as part of the training.

Members of local law enforcement who were conducting the training shot four teachers “execution style” in the course of the training. The shots raised welts and drew blood on some of the teachers.

The Indiana State Teachers’ Union decried the training tactics and called for changes, but the White County Sheriff’s Office defended the approach.

“The training was meant to be realistic — to show what happens if you don’t act,” Sheriff Bill Brooks said following the training.

But is there actually a knowledge gap for teachers? Do they not know what may happen if they fail to act in a real, live active shooter event? That’s doubtful, given ample evidence. Nearly every significant active mass shooting event at a school has included teachers and staff members rushing to protect children. Teachers fully understand the need to act, and act quickly.

Inflicting unnecessary trauma on teachers, staff and children during training events may actually be a greater risk to safety in the long term, and the learning environment in the short term.

A recent story that appeared on MarketWatch claims that no studies exist that demonstrate that more realistic active shooter training is more effective.

A segment produced on an episode of This American Life last year suggested that realistic active shooter drills may actually negatively impact preparation. Participants in drills were so traumatized that they forgot critical response steps, such as calling police.

Drills and actual active shooter events both reveal the same thing: trauma negatively impacts humans’ ability to consistently respond in a way that is both timely and effective. While drills and training are still important, they are not likely to overcome that.

Instead of putting all of the onus to respond on teachers, staff and students, a better approach may be to integrate systems that automatically detect and respond to gun shots, much like fire detection systems automatically detect and respond to the threat of fire.  The Guardian indoor shot detection system offered by Shooter Detection Services uses acoustic and infrared sensors – no bigger and no more obtrusive than smoke detectors — to automatically detect and instantly report shots fired. Guardian can integrate with systems to automatically lock doors the moment a shot is detected, limiting a shooter’s movement and/or keeping potential targets out of harm’s way.

Interested in learning more about Guardian? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

March 18th, 2019

“Hello, brother.”

The man standing at the entrance of the Al-Noor mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand must have seen the weapon the gunman was carrying, and must have guessed the gunman’s intent.

Even so, the greeter welcomed him as a “brother,” offering a hospitality even in the face of a clear threat. Many Muslims have commented online that the final words of that greeter, who became the gunman’s first victim, embodied their faith.

The greeting brings to mind the way Dylan Roof was welcomed in by members of the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. Roof was invited to stay for Bible study. He spent an hour studying with a small group, including the church’s pastor, before gunning down nine of them.

Why are houses of worship so often the targets of active shooters?

The very design and purpose of most houses of worship makes them vulnerable to attack. Most houses of worship are meant to be places that are open and welcoming. Attackers count on that vulnerability.

They are also, of course, places where people of a common faith gather, which makes them a target. The communities gathered there may also share political beliefs, ethnic heritage or immigration status, which may also make them the target for shooters with an evil agenda.

Houses of worship are also often a refuge for troubled people, or those seeking help to escape domestic violence.

So, how can houses of worship enhance safety without compromising core values and losing their sense of community?

First, most broader religious organizations and associations, as well as major insurers, offer guidebooks and training. Leaders should check with their religious networks for guidance, or check with their insurers (see here and here). Law enforcement agencies are also good resources for advice and training.

Houses of worship should also consider adding video surveillance and automatic gunshot detection systems. Both can be unobtrusive and effective in detecting and communicating threats.

The Guardian gunshot detection system developed by Shooter Detection Systems works by using acoustic and infrared sensors to instantly identify gunshots. The precise location of the gunshots is noted, and authorities are alerted immediately. Warnings are also instantly sent out to people in the facility and vicinity advising them to evacuate or take cover. This video demonstrates the basics of the system.

We’d love to tell you more. Please reach out via this link for more information.

February 16th, 2019

A year ago this week, a young gunman entered Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. and took the lives of 17 people. The Parkland shooting was another in a long, sad list of mass shooting incidents that seems to grow every year.

Students at a vigil following the shooting in Parkland, February 14, 2018

But Parkland seemed to be an inflection point in the United States’ struggle with gun violence. Much like the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School more than six years ago, the shooting seemed to break through the national consciousness, even if just for a moment, and spur people to turn a critical eye to these types of events and at least attempt to prevent them from happening again.

So what have we learned?

Mass shooting incidents produce stress and chaos, which make it difficult to make good decisions. Despite the fact that Marjory Stoneman Douglas had held active shooter drills just weeks before the shooting, nothing could quite prepare leaders for the actual event. While the actions of some teachers and students have been heralded as heroic and life-saving, the actions (or inactions) of other leaders on the scene have been called into question. At least some of the problems called out included slow response due to confusion over exactly where the shooter was located on the large, complex campus.

That confusion could have been immediately eliminated by automatic gunshot detection and reporting via systems such as Guardian, offered by Shooter Detection Systems. Guardian uses infrared and acoustic sensors to automatically and accurately detect gunfire. Once gunfire is detected, authorities can be instantly notified of exactly where it is located, and other systems can be activated as well, including automatic door locks and alarms.

Several school districts, including districts across Texas, have responded to shootings like Parkland by investing in Guardian as part of facility “hardening” initiatives. Unlike other such initiatives, Guardian is relatively unobtrusive.

Interested in learning more about Guardian? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

January 24th, 2019

In January 2017, five vacationers lost their lives in a shooting in a baggage claim area at Ft. Lauderdale’s airport. The violent act robbed travelers nationwide of their sense of peace.

Two years later, authorities at the Abilene Regional Airport are hoping to restore some peace to travelers with the installation of the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System.

Don Green, director of transportation services for the airport, became interested Guardian after the Ft. Lauderdale airport

“I think this is a good system to have,” said Green. “It provides a little bit of extra confirmation that something is happening in the terminal and gives you at least a few seconds at least head-start in response.”

Guardian uses acoustic and infrared sensors to detect the sound and flash of gunshots. If a gunshot is detected, Guardian immediately alerts authorities, cutting response time significantly. Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System also integrates with other building systems like door locks, video and communication systems to identify a shooter’s location and disposition, isolate a shooter, and warn facility occupants about the presence of a shooter.

The purchase of the system was made possible by a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration. The grant program, known as the Airport Improvement Program, “provides grants to public agencies — and, in some cases, to private owners and entities — for the planning and development of public-use airports that are included in the National Plan of Integrated Airport Systems (NPIAS).” Funds can be used to enhance airport safety and security.

Thanks to the grant, Abilene Regional Airport only has to pay around ten percent of the total cost of installing the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System. In addition to installing Guardian, the airport also invested in updating its dated video and audio public address system.

Interested in learning more about how the Guardian Indoor Active Shooter Detection System enhances public safety and restores peace of mind? Contact ECT Services at (800) 567-1180.

January 11th, 2019

When it comes time to select a college, you might think that prospective students and their parents focus on factors like academics, cost, beauty of the campus and even the quality of the football and basketball teams. Another important factor? Safety.

Campus safety is a significant factor in choosing a college, particularly for parents. A recent poll conducted by CollegeBoards.com found that 86 percent of parents ranked safety high on their list of requirements, edging out even academics.  

It’s not surprising that 28 percent of colleges and universities highlight their video cameras in their marketing material, according to the 2018 Campus Safety Magazine Video Surveillance Survey.

Video plays a crucial role in campus safety, expanding the reach of campus safety officers into nearly every physical space on campus. A solid 96 percent of survey respondents use video surveillance daily or weekly to keep campuses safe. Top use cases on college and university campuses include theft, crime from community members coming from off campus, and incidents during evenings and off hours.

Video surveillance is used in real time, and for later review. According to the survey, 59 percent of campus security professionals report using video to investigate crimes, while 26 percent report that they are used to deter criminal activity in the first place. Video surveillance is also used by 52 percent of respondents to monitor live events where safety and security issues could arise, like concerts, sporting events and protests. Thirty three percent of respondents find video surveillance to be a force multiplier.

Given those use cases, image quality and reliability are key factors in choosing video surveillance tools, along with integration with other systems and data analytics tools to extend the reach and insights even further.

ECT Services partners with leaders in video surveillance cameras like Axis. We build integrated systems that connect seamlessly with other tools like access control solutions offered by HID and active shooter alert systems like The Guardian by Shooter Detection Systems.

Want to learn more? Contact us at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation today.

December 18th, 2018

Last week marked the six-year anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut that took the lives of 20 children and 6 adults.

There were school shootings before the Sandy Hook event, and there have been school shootings after. According to Everytown for Gun Safety, a group formed in the wake of Sandy Hook, there have been 89 incidents involving gun fire at schools in the last year alone. But Sandy Hook represents a cultural touchstone in some sense, and is often cited in debates over how to solve the problem of mass shootings.

But what lessons have we learned since Sandy Hook?

Campus Safety Magazine identifies seven lessons from Sandy Hook. Among the most striking is the necessity to act quickly in the event of an active shooter situation.

Quickly implementing lockdown procedures undoubtedly saved the lives of many at Sandy Hook. Twenty of the victims where killed in or near two unlocked rooms. In the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla. last year, 22 people were shot in the first 69 seconds of the incident. Speed is crucial, yet difficult to achieve in high-stress situations.

In crisis simulation exercises conducted by Campus Safety Magazine, school personnel miscalculated the time they would have to lock the door. It took between 30 and 40 seconds to find keys and lock doors in many cases, and up to a minute in others.

Part of the delay may be attributable to being able to quickly and accurately assess the threat.

Shot detection systems like Guardian remove the uncertainty and reduce time to act by automatically and accurately detecting gunfire and initiating response. Guardian uses acoustic and infrared sensors to detect gunfire. Guardian can integrate with systems to automatically lock doors the moment a shot is detected. That quick action can limit a shooter’s movement, and also limit the movements of potential targets, keeping them out of harm’s way.

Guardian can also be integrated with other systems, such as communication systems, to immediately alert authorities, staff and other key stakeholders the second a shot is detected.

Schools are recognizing the value of Guardian. For instance, schools in independent districts across Texas have chosen to install Guardian as part of a comprehensive school safety approach aimed at “hardening” schools unobtrusively.

Interested in learning more? Sign up here for our next Live Fire demonstration.

October 18th, 2018

This week’s episode of This American Life, a long-running public radio program that explores a different theme each week, featured stories on mass shootings. One of the segments featured took a closer look at the lessons learned in the wake of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida last February.

The school had undergone intensive active shooter training just weeks before the event that took the lives of 17 students and teachers. As I listened to the segment, a few insights surfaced for me:

  1. One of the lessons learned from previous school shooting was the importance of locking doors and securing areas. At Sandy Hook, the gunman tried two classroom doors and found them locked. The third classroom door he tried was not. He entered that classroom.

“I will not be the third door,” teacher Melissa Falkowski told her students during the active shooter training at Stoneman Douglas.

The Guardian indoor shot detection system offered by Shooter Detection Services uses acoustic and infrared sensors – no bigger and no more obtrusive than smoke detectors — to automatically detect and instantly report shots fired. Guardian can integrate with systems to automatically lock doors the moment a shot is detected. That quick action can limit a shooter’s movement, and also limit the movements of potential targets, keeping them out of harm’s way.

  1. Hyper realistic drills yielded worse performance, underscoring what we already know: humans don’t perform perfectly in high-stress situations. Some schools have used surprise drills featuring “gunmen” with blanks. As you might anticipate, the drills can be extremely traumatizing to faculty, staff and students.

In surprise drills with blanks, participants were so traumatized they forgot key steps like calling the police. Guardian eliminates such critical errors by automatically notifying police the moment that a shot is detected.

  1. Other alarms can add to confusion. During the Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting, dust from acoustical tiles hit by the first few bullets tripped the fire alarms, sending students and teachers pouring out into the hallways where they were exposed to the shooter. Emergency plans had accounted for multiple conflicting alarms – a fire alarm and an active shooter alert – with instruction to ignore a fire alarm and always pay attention to the active shooter alert. But the fire alarm was triggered instantaneously, while the active shooter alert was not.

Would the outcome have been different if acoustic shot detection had triggered an alarm for an active shooter first, rather than an alarm for a fire drill?

Interested in learning more about Guardian? Call (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

September 17th, 2018

September is National Preparedness Month, a time when families are encouraged to make plans for how they will survive fires, floods, tornados or other disasters.

Preparedness is not just for families, however. Business, schools and other organizations also need to have preparedness plans in place.

The ongoing, widespread disaster unfolding along the Mid-Atlantic coast is a stark reminder of why disaster preparedness matters. Hurricane Florence has dropped record amounts of rain already, with more still to come, and massive flooding is anticipated from the coast up into the Appalachian Mountains.

Think we’re safe from hurricanes in the Ohio Valley? It was ten years ago this month that remnants of Hurricane Ivan reformed over Kentucky and swept up the valley and wrought a path of destruction from Arkansas to Canada, including 75 mile per hour wind gusts in Louisville and Cincinnati. The storm downed trees and knocked power out for days throughout the region.
And hurricane season is far from being over. The season will peak in October.

Beyond natural disasters, fires and active shooter events are also a threat. Planning should extend beyond the event and protecting staff, customers and property from immediate harm to business continuity. How will you continue to operate or get back up and running as quickly as possible following a disaster? Proper planning should address all everything from the initial event to complete recovery.

How robust is your preparedness plan? This checklist from the National Fire Protection Association is a great place to start assessing your efforts. The NFPA is also offering this free guide for the development, implementation, assessment, and maintenance of disaster/emergency management and continuity of operations programs on its website.

Well-designed, well-maintained and well-documented integrated systems are key to running your business day to day and recovering in the aftermath of disaster. ECT Services offers more than 30 years of experience delivering design, development and service that keep facilities operating at peak safety and efficiency. Call us today at (800) 567-1180 for a consultation.

August 29th, 2018

It may seem like little has changed in communities impacted by last year’s deadly spate of school shootings, but that may not be the case.

Many called for “hardening” schools against future attacks with enhanced security processes and systems, and school districts across Texas are acting on recommendations to include active shooter detection systems to school facilities.

“We are experiencing a clear trend upwards in the K-12 school market, especially in Texas,” said Christopher Swanger, Senior Vice President of Sales for Shooter Detection Services, which markets The Guardian. “Texas schools are prioritizing funds for school safety and they see the value of our zero false alert system to empower students, staff and law enforcement to respond. Would you send your children to school without fire alarms? Schools are now looking at active shooter detection in the same way.”
The Houston area witnessed its own deadly school shooting on May 18 when a student entered an art classroom and began firing. He killed eight students and two teachers and wounded thirteen others, including school security personnel.

Just two weeks after, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott released a report which included a recommendation that Texas schools install active shooter alarm systems as part of structural improvements aimed at “hardening” schools.

While calls for hardening schools stokes fears that schools would become less welcoming fortresses, active shooter alert systems are a relatively unobtrusive option.

The Guardian indoor shot detection offered by Shooter Detection Services uses acoustic and infrared sensors – no bigger and no more obtrusive than smoke detectors — to automatically detect and instantly report shots fired. The highly-accurate automated response eliminates reliance on human response during high-pressure, stressful and physically dangerous situations.

Guardian can also integrate with a variety of other systems to show live video feed and floor mapping during an event, so shooters can be accurately tracked even from off site. Door locks can be triggered that trap a shooter in a particular area.

Guardian also can be integrated with communication systems to send out mass notifications via social media, audio systems, computer monitors, telephones, mobile devices and fire alarms systems.
This video demonstrates the basics of the system. Interested in learning more? Please click here.

May 29th, 2018

Paige Curry wasn’t even surprised when a gunman made his way into her Santa Fe High School outside Dallas, Texas on May 18 and took the lives of ten people.
In the aftermath of the latest school shooting, a reporter asked the young teen if she was surprised that such a thing could happen at her school.
With a rueful laugh, Curry said she wasn’t.

“It’s been happening everywhere. I’ve always felt it would eventually happen here too,” said Curry.

It’s easy to see shy she feels that way.

Recent analysis in the Washington Post revealed that 2018 has been deadlier for students than for members of the military.

As of May 18, 31 people have died this year in school shooting incidents while 29 U.S military members have died in combat and non-combat incidents.

While it is important to keep the numbers in perspective – there are far more school children than there are service members, and service members are far more likely to be killed while serving – the analysis shouldn’t be overlooked. This year has been more deadly than previous years, and it’s understandable that students would feel at risk.
According to the Post, “the number of deaths and school shooting incidents through May 18 are each higher this year than at any point since 2000. There have been three times as many deaths in school shootings so far this year than in the second-most deadly year through May 18, 2005.”

Integrated security systems are key to quickly detecting and responding to threats. The Guardian indoor shot detection offered by Shooter Detection Services uses acoustic and infrared sensors to automatically detect and instantly report shots fired. The highly-accurate automated response eliminates reliance on human response during high-pressure, stressful and physically dangerous situations.

Guardian also integrates with a variety of other systems to show live video feed and floor mapping during an event, so shooters can be accurately tracked even from off site. Door locks can be triggered that trap a shooter in a particular area.
Guardian also can be integrated with communication systems to send out mass notifications via social media, audio systems, computer monitors, telephones, mobile devices and fire alarms systems.

This video demonstrates the basics of the system.
Interested in learning more? Please click here.