A Tornado is Coming!

By Neal Bellamy, IT Director at Kenton Brothers

Unfortunate events in recent history like the Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech shootings, Joplin Missouri Tornado and numerous disgruntled employee and customer threats have increased the need to communicate with your staff quickly, regardless of where they are located. We call this “Mass notification.”

Mass Notification

Mass notification is different than past notification solutions. Previous solutions involved dedicated locations or software that would receive an alert message. Mass notification typically includes overhead speakers or paging systems to tell everyone within earshot what is happening, and a lot more.

One such mass notification system is Alertus.



Alertus can accept alerts from emergency push buttons installed in various locations at your building, distress buttons at desks, hotkey commands on PCs, fire or access control systems, NOAA weather alerts, etc. Once an alert is received, Alertus can send the specified alert to mobile or desktop applications, beacons with strobe lights and sounders, overhead paging or phone systems, and large outdoor speakers. The Alertus system is configurable for any situation.

We recently installed a system for a financial company that works with consumers. They knew that they could face situations like active shooter, disgruntled employee or customer, sever weather, or a medical emergency. All of these scenarios should be handled differently to get the right information to the right people without causing unnecessary panic or confusion.

Scenario 1: Active Shooter or disgruntled person

If an employee encounters a threat, they can activate Alertus. There are wall mounted buttons, an under desk mounted duress button and a hotkey combination for any computer that is logged in that can send the alert. Once activated, all alert beacons show a customer message and make a sound to get people’s attention. Their white noise system and overhead paging systems are used to announce the customer message. Every computer has the message displayed full screen. And the message is sent to each user that has enrolled their mobile application.

Scenario 2: Tornado

The system is connected to NOAA weather alerts via the internet. The system filters the alerts by multiple keywords, such as “tornado” and “observed.” Once an important alert is received, the beacons are activated with a specific message and a different sound than scenario 1. The computers display a full screen message and the mobile applications are alerted.

Scenario 3: Medical Alert

Buttons are placed in the gym and maintenance shed in the event of a medical alert. The people that need to know about the medical emergency is limited, so we don’t need to send alerts to all of the beacons, mobile devices, etc. Instead, we send the alert to the one beacon that resides with the button, to let the person know the system was successfully activated. Then we show a message on the computers of the people that need to be alerted. The message displayed tells the responders where the medical event is located. By only notifying the people that need to know, and telling them exactly where the emergency is, we limit the confusion and panic of the situation, while still resolving the issue quickly.

The Alertus system is highly configurable and each scenario can be customized to fit your needs. Alertus has several integrations and lots of options for each one. If you would like to learn more about mass notification systems for your business or campus, please give us a call.

5 Critical Things You Must Do In An Active Shooter Situation

Author: David Strickland

At Kenton Brothers, one of our core values is Continuous Learning. So when presented with the chance to attend classes or conferences, we feel like it’s a great investment for not only ourselves but our customers too.

Active Shooter CourseI had the opportunity to attend the Active Shooter seminar “Dealing with Active Shooters” at ISC West in Las Vegas in April. I honestly didn’t know what to expect beforehand, but the topic is one that many of our customers worry about every day. The class was fantastic. The instructor was knowledgeable and had real world experience dealing with these situations.

I wanted to share my takeaways and give you some resources for planning your company’s response to this type of situation.

First, let’s talk about what you can do now, before an active shooter event happens. The advice shared is to have situational awareness at all times. Look for the things that are out of place and that your gut tells you are weird. These feelings are usually the first indicator that things could go wrong. Trust your gut. If you have a bad feeling… take steps to determine why. If you see someone approaching with a crazy look on their face, there’s a good chance they’re not trying to invite you to cocktails. Ready yourself or get out before there is a chance for violence.

During the class, the recommended process for active shooter response is RUN, HIDE, FIGHT.  However, their instruction went beyond those steps. For instance, you can run, but where to? There are only two directions to go, toward the violence or away from it.  How sure are you that you’re are headed in the right direction?

C. David Shepherd, former FBI and SWAT Member, boiled the process down to 5 things.

  1. Determine the Threat. Is it a person with a gun, multiple people with guns? Is it a person with a knife or chemical? Again, trust your gut and let all of your senses help you. Can you hear people screaming? Can you hear gunshots? Can you see smoke or smell it?  Many times in these scenarios, it may take up to 30-45 seconds for someone to react because it takes time to process what is going on.  Shortening this time could be critical for survival.
  2. Determine your distance from the threat. Where is this violence at? Is it in the next office? Is it in the lobby? Where are you in relationship to it? How long will it take for it to get to you? What is between you and it? Knowing this is critical because you don’t want to flee toward the violence. Is it better to bunker in place?
  3. Determine your quickest way to escape. What is the quickest way away from the violence? Could it be the stairs? Backdoor? What about the window? You must also take into consideration the following items: Who is with me, who do I have a duty of care to?  Employees, Family members, patients, etc. How quickly can I get myself and those I am responsible for to safety?This can be greatly affected with prior planning.  Take the time to notice the exits at the theater or hospital or even your office.  If you can’t get out – bunker down or Hide.  Lock doors, turn off lights, barricade doors stay away from windows and stay very quiet.
  4. Determine your ability to defend yourself. What are your skills and training? What is available around you to use as a defensive weapon? During the class, we spoke at length about different items such as concealed weapons, mace, pepper spray and even fire extinguishers. A fire extinguisher can be used as a “smoke screen” and a blunt instrument. Don’t forget chairs too. The goal is to get away. You may be able to incapacitate the shooter long enough to save yourself and family. The biggest lesson is that you must commit to your actions. If you are going to defend yourself, do it with a survivors mentality.
  5. Response to Authority. If you see police, immediately put your hands on your head and comply 100%. They will not know if you are the threat or an innocent. All of those details will be worked out later. Trust the process and follow directions.

These 5 tips will help in an active shooter or mass violence situation. I want to stress how important it is to have a plan. Not only for preventing and managing the situation, but how you will respond after a tragedy of this type effects your organization. Kenton Brothers can help guide you through this process. Give us a call.

Here are some additional links to use as resources: