By Laura Ray
Panic buttons within churches vary in functionality depending on the type of system features offered. Many church organizations will often ask their current alarm company to provide them with a hard-wired panic button (a “traditional” panic button).
However, these types of hardwired panic button systems alert only one responder. The average time for responders to be notified of an emergency situation with traditional panic button systems is around three minutes. Conventional panic buttons also do not give confirmation that the alert was received by responders. Moreover, these types of traditional panic buttons often fail to alert responders, which leaves the potential victim in a very vulnerable situation.
On the other hand, technology-driven panic button systems give religious organizations the ability to alert multiple responders with just a push of a button. Computer panic software programs dramatically cut down on response time during a crisis. This type of instant notification allows authorities to dispatch responders the moment an alert is received. These next-generation panic buttons also let you know that the alert was received by responders. There is no hardwiring involved and setup only takes a few minutes.
Also, these wireless panic button programs are always evolving striving to increase safety and security. A panic button software program is rather inexpensive, which will not drain your church budget. Saving money is always a plus because the funds you save can be used in other outreach programs for your community.
What is the main reason to have updated panic buttons within churches?
The idea behind having a panic button for a church is to lower the time between the onset of an incident and when responders are on the scene. The goal is to notify responders rapidly. This allows for a quick de-escalation of any crisis, which lowers the opportunity of victimization. The large time delay of the traditional panic buttons is the reason why these buttons are rapidly becoming discounted and ruled ineffective by responders.
There are many benefits tech-driven panic buttons offer that other safety and security tools do not. Setting up software panic buttons in the common areas of your church increases security. Also, this type of setup allows members and staff to quickly access the duress buttons in the event of an emergency. Quick access to these panic buttons cuts response time down to mere seconds rather than several minutes. Responders also have the information provided by the alert system to handle the emergency more efficiently.
Panic buttons within churches are not very expensive to install. Minimal effort is needed to set up these programs, so daily office activities are rarely disrupted. Technology-based panic buttons are icons disguised in the tray icons or on the screensaver of your computer workstation.
Equally, many panic button providers offer optional hardware devices that can be easily hidden from a criminal during a volatile emergency situation, which in turn, also provides the peace-of-mind needed to operate a safe worship environment.
Why are traditional panic buttons a mistake?
Many of the panic buttons within churches are activated accidentally, and no one knows which button location the alert originated. The traditional panic buttons within churches are still answered by responders with high priority.
However, the delayed notification time on the traditional buttons that work proved to be ineffective for a rapid response. On average, it takes approximately seven minutes before help arrives on the scene. Seven minutes is a lifetime in a crisis situation. Therefore, making rapid notification is just as important and the response time of responders.
Does technology offer solutions for church panic buttons?
Yes! Technology has caught up and revolutionized the way people respond to situations. The increase in global and domestic terrorism creates a clear and imminent need to have panic buttons within churches. People believe mobile apps are the cure-all for these types of situations. However, an app is not solely the best option. Think about if there was an emergency. Would you have time to find your phone, open it, and locate the app to raise a panic? Phone app panic buttons focus more on individuals rather than buildings and people inside.
The key for an effective panic button for churches is to lower the notification time to responders and to integrate internal and external notification. Integrating internal and external notification means that it notifies everyone within the church while alerting responders at the same time. Internal and external notification should be merged into the push of a button.
How much should I budget for church panic buttons?
The best technology-driven panic button systems offer free system updates to ensure you do not get stuck with an outdated program. Technology is always changing just like your place of worship. Look for a scalable system that meets your exact needs and the cost will always offset. Surprisingly, the technology-driven church panic buttons are usually priced three to one less than the traditional panic buttons while offering several other innovative features that can easily be molded to your particular needs.
Laura Ray is with TeamAlert, a technology-based panic buttons that lets staff in one or more locations notify others, including 911 centers, that they need assistance, www.teamalert.com.