Emergency Communication System

Curious to hear what people are using to notify 1st responders, staff, volunteers when an emergency or crisis occurs on your campus.

Any feedback on the following vendors or suggestions to consider are greatly appreciated.


We implemented two systems of emergency alerts:

One is simply a large GroupMe group text that everyone receives a text from everyone. That one has about 50 people in it and is great when there is a weather related event and staff members may not be directly checking their email.

For internal and external threats around the church, especially during service times, we worked with our alarm and access control vendor to install blue strobes around the campus. If a pastoral staff or security team member identified a problem outside of the building, they swipe the External Threat key card and the building goes into lockdown mode. If there’s an active shooter in the building, an Internal Threat card is swiped and the blue strobes and sirens activate. everyone shelters in place on top of internal hallways going into lockdown.
The key card system also sends a text or email to lots of staff and security people letting them know who and where the key card was swiped.

Would you mind sharing your alarm/access control vendor? Thank you!

We are in the process of finding a new solution for our school intercom system and are looking at connection ceiling speakers to our FreePBX system that could be used for intercom, paging, even playing music. I’d be curious to know if anyone else has intercom and emergency comm needs.

The local company we use is Panhandle Systems: http://www.panhandlesystems.com/
They install Identiv and Bosch control systems, which is what powers our access control/keyfob stuff.
I will say the system is extremely complicated to set up and difficult to change, should we ever need to. Definitely a vendor-specific thing. But it works well and is easy for staff to understand.

Both our security and fire alarm systems are monitored 24/7. They trigger a notification to our Safety and Security Teams and dispatch by police or fire as appropriate. These systems also have loud alarms that are activated on campus and are distinct.

We utilize cell phones as our primary communication device during an emergency and utilize walkie talkies as a backup communication method. We have them dispatched to key leaders and in charging stations so that if an emergency happens and the cellular networks go down and power goes down, we can communicate for several hours thereafter.

All our staff and key lay leaders have credit card size emergency cards with the names and numbers of Safety and Security Team members, police, fire, and paramedic services.

We also have bullhorns and a ham radio.

Our site is set up with battery back up emergency lighting throughout the campus, over 60 maps in the six buildings on campus that show where you are, emergency exits from there and the location of emergency equipment nearby: fire extinguishers, first aid kits, spill kits, AEDs, fire pulls.

All our large meeting rooms have a set of instructions on the platform to follow, including scripts with what to say in any particular type of emergency.