Thompson explains benefits of Rauland Telecenter U

Phil Thompson explained how the Rauland Telecenter U, a critical communication system, could benefit the Brookville schools in event of an emergency or severe weather situation. Thompson demonstrated the system to the Brookville School Board Monday night.

Patti Slaughter

BROOKVILLE — Safety of students continues to be a priority with the Brookville Area School Board and administration. A new piece of equipment being considered by the board may take that protection one step further.

Phil Thompson, representing Open Systems Pittsburgh, gave a demonstration of the Rauland Telecenter U (TCU), a critical communication system which would allow emergency procedures to be put into action with the touch of one button.

“Rauland is the largest critical communications manufacturer in the world,” he said. “About five years ago they developed the TCU, which is designed to overlay your existing intercom system. What the Rauland TCU does is to allow you to remove the human element. In the event of an emergency you want to be able to press one button” and have emergency procedures put into action.

Thompson said “we program the system to do what you want it to do.” He said the system’s program could include weather alerts, such as a tornado warning, allowing students and staff to move to safe locations.

Messages in the system would be “recorded by the local principal, since that is the voice of authority within that building. If that building goes into lockdown or there is a tornado warning, you are listening to the principal’s voice,” he said.

The system would be programmed into the district’s server, and would have two panic buttons in each of the school offices, as well as the administrative office, with designated staff having access to trigger the panic button.

Thompson said his company is already working with the Tyrone, Keystone, DuBois and A-C Valley school districts.

Following the presentation Matt Simmons, the district’s director of technology, said, as a fireman, “we drill all the time. The drills never really look like reality when reality happens. One of my concerns has always been, if that worst-case scenario happens, we are relying on a human being to try to remember a series of actions to take in order to try to get the word out throughout the building to protect as many people as we possibly can. This particular systems takes much of that thought out of it. Now it comes down to the push of a button. I see a real benefit to having something like that.

“If we have a real emergency where we have to go into lockdown, you are going to have a human response that is unpredictable. With this, we are getting a clear message that is consistent with the push of a button. With the system we have now, there are a lot of things that a person has to remember very quickly in a very stressful situation, and that can lead to confusion. This makes sure the notifications go out consistently. It can trigger multiple alerts simultaneously.”

Later in the meeting Superintendent Robin Fillman gave a review of security measures that are being implemented in the schools.

She also announced that a town hall meeting is being planned for next month, facilitated by Dr. Tina Nabatchi. Community members will have the opportunity to discuss “what are our needs, what are our security wants, how to we want to prioritize,” she said. The date and time will be announced later, through the media and the School Watch system.

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