bushfire emergency responseIs your school bushfire ready? Do you have a SMS communications system in place for rapid emergency response?

So, summer is here and school is almost over for another year. For lots of Australia however, it is also the start of bushfire season. It’s that time of year that we really need to look over our bushfire plans and ask the questions, ‘If a fire was rapidly approaching your school, just how quickly could you communicate with parents?’ and ‘In the worst-case scenario, how does your school handle your emergency communications?’.

Whilst the start of the Australian bushfire season was the primary instigator of this article, it is also extremely relevant for all other type of school emergencies.

Technology is allowing for greater communication.

Technology has certainly improved communications over recent years. We now have a multitude of ways and mobile devices to communicate with parents / students and the wider community. But with so many platforms, how do we ensure we are enabling the best practice communication in an emergency? The short answer: it’s still SMS.

Why SMS works and why SMS alerts must be part of your school’s bushfire plan.

Here’s the crux of it:

  • SMS (or text) messages have a 98% open rate, (email has only a 20% open rate).
  • 90% of all text messages are read in under 3 minutes.

With statistics like that, plus the fact that you can send personalised sms alerts at once, sms becomes the most integral part of your bush-fire communications plan. When comparing to other rapid communication methods such as email or in-app messaging, SMS still wins hands-down. In-app messaging still doesn’t get that same open rate and response rate of SMS. Whilst school apps can be great to communicate general information to parents, there is still more effort required by parents to receive the information (such as downloading the app, registering, logging in, enabling notifications etc) making this communication method less reliable for emergency communications.

MGM Wireless believes ‘best practice’ emergency response within schools still requires SMS and when a school develops a bushfire emergency response plan, they should take the following points into consideration.

  • When creating, or reviewing your school’s Bushfire plan, SMS communications needs to be an integral part of this.
  • On ‘Catastrophic fire days’ where schools may be closed on the following day, SMS announcements should be used to ensure all parents are aware of this.
  • When a fire is in the area, SMS alerts should be the first method employed to contact and communicate with parents.
  • SMS message templates should also be created so that messages can be sent almost instantly in the event of an emergency.

With every piece of school communication an opportunity to improve a school’s image and standing within the community, it becomes imperative that a best practice communication plan, that includes SMS alerts, is put in place.

MGM working with government departments to ensure schools have access to its technology.

For over 15 years, MGM has worked closely with all government education departments  to ensure student and teacher safety is paramount. As the market leader, MGM’s communication solutions have enabled schools to be able to act quickly in an emergency.

Several State Independent School Associations and State Education Departments use MGM school communication systems for state-wide emergency alerts to other schools, parents and students. Whilst it might be time for holidays and time to relax, the start of the new year (and highest bush-fire risk time) is not far away. Is your school going to be ready?

Call us on 1800 300 346 if you need further information on how to make sure you have sms alerts in place and ready to go when needed. We can talk you through all your options. You never know when an emergency situation may arise.

For a more comprehensive whitepaper on emergency response planning click here: School Emergency Communication Using Text Messaging