Utilizing the CrisisGo emergency communication platform, Santa Barbara Unified School District campuses participated in the Great ShakeOut drill on Thursday, joining millions of people across the world in practicing earthquake safety protocols.
Santa Barbara schools have participated in the Great California ShakeOut every year since its inception over a decade ago, but this is the first time ever that the CrisisGo app technology allowed leaders to initiate emergency protocols district wide with the push of a button.
The ShakeOut drill – which took place today (10/17 at 10:17 a.m.) – allowed schools to practice game plans around Drop, Cover and Hold On!, evacuation procedures, and communication strategies for making sure every student and staff member are accounted for and safe.
“We went into this knowing that, no matter what happens, we are going to be successful,” said Kelly Moore, the district’s Safety Coordinator and former, longtime Sheriff’s commander. “For the first time ever, we had the capability of communicating with the entire district with the push of a button. Did we have some issues, yes, but we expected that. We expected to learn from this so that we know what we need to work on as we move forward. This is the initial step in the process.”
District officials have spent several months working with CrisisGo engineers to customize the app, which now includes local school site safety plans, campus maps, contact details, and other information needed to help guide people through an emergency situation on or around campuses. The app was loaded onto all district-issued smart devices. Teachers currently have the option of installing the app on their personal devices. That will also be an option for students and parents in the future.
Assistant Superintendent of Student Services, Frann Wageneck, said the CrisisGo technology is a game-changer in terms of keeping our school community safe.
“This is really a significant moment for our district and our community,” Wageneck said. “We are the first public agency on the South Coast to integrate a two-way messaging tool into our safety response to crisis. We really want to thank our parents for preparing their students for the Great ShakeOut, as well as our students and staff for cooperating and taking this drill seriously.”
Once Moore activated the district wide drill at 10:17 a.m., he and Wageneck monitored each campus closely, including using school-specific, app group channels to communicate with principals as they led their sites through each step.
Jennifer Foster, principal of La Colina Junior High School, said “Today’s use of the CrisisGo app provided school staff with a uniform way to duck, cover and hold, and to evacuate. Despite minor challenges, teachers reported that the app was easy to use for reporting attendance and view CrisisGo as an effective tool in our crisis response system.”
According to the Great ShakeOut website, this year, 65,895,671 participants had registered to participate in the earthquake drill worldwide.