On Monday, Taylor Middle School went into lockdown during the school day. It wasn’t the real thing; it was a practice drill for school officials and police officers in case there was an actual lockdown situation on campus.
Taylor Middle School Principal Travis Motal said there were two main goals with the drill - evaluate the working functionality with the Crisis Go app and to see how well the interagency cooperation works. The interagency cooperation includes Taylor ISD, Taylor Police Department, Williamson County Sheriff's and Hutto ISD Police Department.
"They get to see how we use Crisis Go, so if we really did have an emergency situation, they would be up-to-date on what we're wanting to keep everybody safe," Motal said.
Crisis Go is a cellphone application that communicates with staff members about safety expectations and what staff should do during safety situations. The app can communicate important information such as who is safe, where to evacuate and where to stay put.
The district purchased the app, and it can be used in most any emergency situation including a lockdown, fire, tornado, etc. Within the app, messages and alerts can be sent out to staff members.
"What we want staff to do, what type of situation is happening, so they know exactly how to respond," Motal said.
He said the app also has rosters and checklists for the teachers so they know what to do. There are also maps of the school.
He explained that teachers receive a notification of what's happening, and they react based on the checklist. A second message is sent out based on the situation.
"We sent out messages telling teachers where the suspicious person was, who should evacuate and who should stay in the room," he said.
Taylor Police Commander Joseph Branson, who participated in the drill, said the exercise went well.
"We are excited and happy to be a part of this in making our schools safer," he said.
Motal agreed and said the drill went well overall.
"It was great to see the interagency collaboration happening, and I think the debrief is going to be important to highlight the areas of strength and the areas we need to improve on," he said. "I really enjoyed seeing how Crisis Go would work in a real scenario."
Branson said it not only strengthened the relationship the department has with the school, but with also with the Hutto ISD Police Department.
"Just like the schools go through fire drills, which has been successful . . . we think this is going to be a valuable tool for us so that we can observe what we do and the response we have, and coordinate it with the ISD's response," he said.
Motal was thankful for everyone who worked with the school on this drill including staff and law enforcement.
"I appreciate everyone who was willing to participate with us and interrupt their day to make sure our school is operating in a safe way," he said.
This was the first time the app has been used in an extensive nature, according to Motal. This was also the first time the interagency cooperation participated.
"I hope this is first of many [practices]," he said. "We won't be able to do it all the time, but I hope we can do it several times a year."