Law enforcement professionals, educational professionals, and other interested attendees gathered in the auditorium of Addison Trail High School in Addison, Ill., to observe an active shooter drill and learn more about responder practices. The drill was narrated and explained to observers by Crime Prevention Officer, Omar Brucal of the Addison Police Department. PHOTO BY SDM STAFF
Yesterday’s tragic Navy Yard shooting in Washington D.C., in which a gunman killed at least 12 people, will serve to keep active-shooter drills at the forefront of first responder agencies for months to come. Active shooter response is one of the many topics planned for the ASIS Int’l Seminar and Exhibits next week in Chicago. There are three sessions scheduled, which together will expose attendees to topics such as trends in active shooting incidents, patterns and behavior of offenders, tools for preparing a response, and more. (See https://app.epicreg.com/sps_a/SessionSearch/SessionName/C066916A-32D4-4FF1-834C-78664D43E343)
As a systems integrator, you may be wondering what your role, if any, would be in active shooter preparedness. Regarding your clients, what services can you offer to help them evaluate risk factors or plan a successful response? One nationwide integrator, Schaumburg, Ill.-based Convergint Technologies, was actively involved in an active shooter drill earlier this year. Their involvement was centered on technology and its usefulness in helping first responders and school administrators learn what their deficiencies may be.
The drill took place at Addison Trail High School, part of District 88, in Addison, Ill., and took nearly a year to plan and prepare. “[We have] private business, community agencies, school, fire, police, hospitals, Convergint all working together to keep our kids safe. That’s the critical part here — we appreciate the partnership,” said Addison Trail High School assistant principal, Michael Bolden. “This technology here, this is on cell phones and iPads. If the police have this kind of technology they know where people are at; it helps them function,” he described.
While students and faculty, who had assumed roles in the drill as witnesses and victims, took their places moments before the drill began, more than 100 observers were ushered into the school’s auditorium to watch the drill unfold on a large screen on the stage. iPads also were available for the observers — many of whom were law enforcement and educators — to use for close-up viewing. The observation portion of the drill would not have been possible without the video surveillance system that Convergint Technologies, the fifth largest systems integrator in the United States, had installed at Addison Trail High School about four years prior to the drill. The system consists of an OnSSI video management system, approximately 80 network cameras from Axis Communications, and – installed specifically for the drill – the Mobile Operations Center from LexRay, based in Lisle, Ill.
“LexRay is a mobile app. It allows you to be able to call up the cameras outside of the VMS and display them with any Android or Apple device,” explained Mike Kuhn, vice president of business development at Convergint Technologies. “We’ve installed this to give the observers the ability to see what’s going on when we’re doing the drill right here. But at the same time, from a first responder’s perspective, the cameras inside the school are worthless to a first responder unless they have some window into the school in an emergency.
“Once we make this connection with LexRay to the cloud, we’re not having to tunnel back into the school through their network to see anything. All of these mobile devices [being used by observers in the high school’s auditorium] are touching the server that’s out in the cloud, not here at the school. We’re just pulling the images off and transferring them to that server out in the cloud,” Kuhn explained, adding that every connection to the school network creates issues associated with bandwidth. “This way we could have all the connections outside of the school network. The OnSSI feeds the video information to the cloud, and the LexRay allows you to pull it down from the cloud. You can have as many [users] as you want.”
Convergint Technologies’ Mike Kuhn, vice president of business development, displays his tablet’s connection to the Lexray Cloud, which pulls in the views from cameras that Convergint installed throughout Addison Trail High School, giving first responders an opportunity to view the offenders, as well the victims, as the shooting drill unfolded. PHOTO BY SDM STAFF
Kuhn explained that Convergint, Axis Communications, and OnSSI all donated additional equipment for the drill. “They needed some additional camera coverage, some additional software licenses — all of us kicked in so that they have complete coverage from where the SWAT team will enter building, down the hallways, through the commons area, and up to the second floor where there will be another shooter in a classroom upstairs. We’ve got end-to-end coverage of all of those areas so you’ll be able to see the team move through that.”
From the moment the drill commenced with emergency tones and a chilling announcement broadcast throughout the school — Attention all students and staff; we are now moving into lockdown – this is a drill. Attention all students and staff; we are now moving into a lockdown— to the arrival of officer units, their movement through the hallways to find and neutralize one of the shooters, their managing of a second shooter who held hostages in a classroom, and even the transfer of injured students to a medical triage area, observers were able to watch every step of the drill, which lasted several hours. Afterwards, everyone gathered in the cafeteria for animated discussion about what had transpired.
“I don’t think anybody can prepare us for the reality that we may face. It’s impossible to prepare us for every situation we’re going to be in. I think there is a misunderstanding that this drill is here to prepare us. It is not here to prepare us. This drill today is to find our deficiencies as first responders. We find our deficiencies; we work on those deficiencies, and by working on them and correcting them, that makes us better,” said Joseph Leone, deputy chief, Addison Fire Protection District #1.