In an effort to be prepared for an widespread emergency, the city of Denison got its hands on some new sirens that have voice capabilities to allow instructions to accompany a warning about pending dangers. The city recently upgraded several sirens while installing two new, high-tech sirens around town.

The first of the new sirens was installed at Texoma Health Foundation Park. The second was placed at the Denison High School. The new sirens are different than the ones currently serving the community because of the voice capabilities.

Denison Emergency Management Coordinator Morgan Metcalf said the new sirens are part of the city's complete overhaul of its siren technology and there were three additional sirens installed last month at Waterloo, Munson Stadium and Forest Park. Even though two of the sirens will serve property belonging to the Denison Independent School District property, they all belong to the city and were installed by Denison Fire Rescue.

“It is a project that has been in the works for a while,” Metcalf said. “The intention of these sirens is to let people who are gathering in our outdoor spaces get a heads up on any public safety concerns.”

Public safety is once again on the minds of public officials following a pair of mass shootings over the weekend, including one at a Walmart in El Paso. The siren that was installed at the high school is a tool that could be used to disperse information in the event of an active shooter or other security situation.

Denison ISD Emergency Operations and Security Director Odis Luper it is one more tool the district can use to keep its people safe.

“It is an excellent tool we have added to the campus,” Luper said. “It is amazing what you can do with technology. If we have a student outside, say on the football field, and there is a situation we can alert them to come back in or stay away depending on the situation. It is a great tool to help protect our students, staff and visitors.”

The sirens do feature a warning sound similar to the ones already around town, but what makes the one at the high school different is it can share information using pre-recorded voice messages. Luper said in the instance of an active shooter or other security situation the district would preempt the warning siren with a voice message containing instructions on what type of situations the emergency is as well as how to stay safe during the event.

The district spends time the first three weeks of school preparing students for emergency drills, and Luper said that starts with going to each individual class in the first couple of days to tell them what to expect during those types of situations. Then, school staff will begin showing students what an emergency looks like with the practice drills.

Any protocols the district adds in addition to the ones the city has installed will come at a later date once the district has all the technology in place.

Metcalf said the high school campus was chosen because the city wanted something to serve the north end of town. He said the city tests the sirens the first Wednesday of every month, and if weather prevents that from happening the city will warn people the test has been canceled to let them know if they hear a siren that day it is for an emergency.

Whenever a person hears one of these sirens outside of the monthly test, they should immediately take shelter.