ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – Just minutes before the bell rang Wednesday at Holy Rosary Catholic School in Arlington, Principal Chad Riley sent a text message. Or, actually, about 170 of them.
“Due to a spotted coyote near the school property, we will have indoor dismissal,” read the text.
The appearance of a coyote near the back fence prompted Riley to keep students indoors until parents picked them up.
“It was a change to our normal procedure we wanted people to be aware of,” said Riley.
Almost instantly, parents who had signed up for the schools alert system knew what was happening. “Yea, I was surprised. A coyote?” said Teresa Burda, a parent who received the text.
Emergency alert systems became standard at universities, after the tragedy at Virginia Tech lead to complaints students should have been made aware of the shooter on campus
Over the last few years, though, business has boomed for companies, like Frisco based Call Em All, which now provides alert messaging for more than a thousand schools nationwide. The business made Inc magazine‘s list of the 500 fastest growing companies nationwide.
“They’ll sign up with us for snow announcements and end up using us for unusual emergencies , PTA meetings, ‘don’t forget to bring your permission slips’,” said Brad Herrmann, the company’s founder and president.
The company’s website allows organizations to send messages to hundreds of members in a matter of seconds.
A spokesperson for UT Arlington said its emergency notifications are still reserved for situations that pose an immediate threat.
Herrmann says its all up to the organization in charge to decide how they use it. “We find the organizations themselves are somewhat self regulating,” he said.
At Holy Rosary, though, parents seem to think, when it comes to their children, the more information, the better.
“It’s definitely a good thing, definitely a good thing,” said Amy Carrasco, a parent.