When you hear the acronym “SOS,” what do you think of? Perhaps words like “emergency” or “urgent” come to mind.
The Troy SOS emergency system is designed to send out alerts to students via a text message as soon as there is a reported safety alert. These safety alerts may take the form of inclement weather, crisis drills and various other emergency conditions.
This system is good in theory but not so much in practice.
The problem with the SOS emergency system is that the alerts are sent out immediately following the emergency, a tornado for example, or even days after an event such as an assault.
What benefit is it to know about an incoming tornado after the tornado has passed? How is one supposed to know to be on the lookout for an assault suspect when the suspect is already apprehended or the situation is dealt with?
“If the message isn’t getting there in time, if the students are not getting the message, then they either need to fix it or drop it altogether,” said Carson Posey, a freshman from Andalusia whose major is undeclared.
“I have an 8 a.m. class every day of the week,” Posey said. “If there was a weather emergency that morning, and I’m not hearing about it until that afternoon, I could potentially get myself into a lot of trouble by walking to that class.”
Some students think that the SOS emergency system is not even worth the effort and resources that are currently being put into it.
“There is no point in telling us after the emergency happens because you can’t prepare for something after the fact,” said Holly Ledogar, a senior biomedical sciences major from New Brockton. “It’s pointless.”
While there is no way to solve every problem arising within the system, Ledogar said he believes that there is really only one possible improvement.
“The system would be more effective if it updated students as an event is unfolding,” she said. “They need to stay ahead of the game, so to speak.”
Troy’s SOS emergency system will never be perfect, nor will any other emergency system in the world be perfect. If it were possible for schools to relay information about an emergency before the event took place, we would see significantly fewer tragedies.
However, while the emergency system cannot necessarily prevent a tragedy, it can aid in lessening the impact of the tragedy by warning students to get to safety.
The SOS emergency system is not the only school emergency prevention method that is flawed.
For example, the mass shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, on Dec. 14, 2012, occurred only days after the school’s security protocols were upgraded.
In an article published by The New
York Times on the same day as the shooting, “Nation Reels After Gunman Massacres 20 Children at School in Connecticut,” author James Barron states that the school recently required all visitors to be individually admitted following identification confirmation by a video monitor.
Furthermore, he explained that the school’s doors were automatically locked after 9:30 a.m. each day.
It is easy to think that safety measures such as those implemented in Connecticut would be more effective than receiving a simple text message.
However, it is important to grasp the fact that a gunman found his way past a video monitor and locked doors.
No matter the upgrades made to Troy’s SOS emergency system, we will never be able to fully prevent the possibility of a tragic event. However, abandoning the system completely will only take with it our awareness of current urgent situations.
While the emergency system is not and never will be perfect, we can at least better prepare for potential tragic events by simply being aware.