"Adding FirstNet to our layers of security gives me great peace of mind."

Posted on September 25, 2019

by Tony Furman, Principal, Blocker Middle School, Texas City Independent School District

One of my key roles as a middle school principal is to ensure that students feel safe when they’re at school – because students can’t learn if they don’t feel like they’re in a safe environment.

My job is to set up that environment – the facilities, the processes and the procedures – for them to have that safety and security. That goes for our teachers, as well.

Teachers play a huge role in the safety and security of our school and our students. They’re on the front lines for us. They are the eyes and ears of the school.

So we need to be prepared for any type of situation throughout the year – whether it be a medical situation, a fire, or a weather-related emergency. And having quick, reliable communication is key to being able to respond to any situation.

That’s where FirstNet comes in.

Prepared for emergencies

As a principal, I was not directly involved with selecting FirstNet. But Mike Matranga, Texas City ISD’s Executive Director for Safety and Security, talked with all the principals to get our input on what we needed.

We talked about our priorities for safety and what we viewed as high-need areas.

From my perspective, it was important to have a system that was easily accessible, user-friendly and that could help us communicate quickly and reliably.

With FirstNet, we have that. I’m able to interact with our School Liaison Officers and with police and other administrators. When we have a situation – any type of emergency situation – having access to law enforcement and medical personnel is critical.

User-friendly training

Our training on the devices also was very user-friendly. We learned how to access the device, the apps we could use and all the accessibility features.

After the training, I felt very comfortable knowing that I could use my FirstNet device in any emergency.

With the touch of a button on our FirstNet device, we can summon the right kind of help, depending on the situation we’re in – whether it’s a medical emergency, a staff assist, or even a possible school intruder.

Adding FirstNet to our layers of security really gives me a great peace of mind. It’s comforting to have that direct, reliable communication in any type of emergency. And I’m speaking as both an administrator and a parent.

Reliable communication

Other school districts and agencies around us should look at FirstNet. Seeing firsthand how our neighbors in Santa Fe struggled with communications issues during the shooting that took ten lives there  – that crystallized this decision for us.

When you’re in these situations and others are tying up the network, it makes it hard to communicate with first responders and others who are in your emergency plan. Having that priority status, you’re able to communicate much better with each other and develop a good response plan.

You have to be prepared for any situation that comes your way. And during an emergency situation, there’s no greater tool than access to reliable communication.

With FirstNet, I feel like we’re very prepared.

Tony Furman is the principal at Blocker Middle School in the Texas City Independent School District. He’s been an educator for 16 years, with 11 of those as an administrator and the last 7 seven years as a principal. The Texas City school district comprises both the cities of Texas City and La Marque.