Customer Stories > DeKalb CUSD 428

How DeKalb CUSD 428 Automates IHSA Weather Policy Management

  • Peter Goff
    Athletic Director

  • Nate Viland
    Head Athletic Trainer

“Our entire staff and coaches all use Perry Weather, eliminating the need for them to call me and ask, ‘What do I do?’ They have all the necessary information readily available on their Perry Weather app, and the best part is that Athletic Trainers and coaches are always on the same page.”
Peter Goff
Athletic Director

DeKalb CUSD 428 is located about an hour west of downtown Chicago in Illinois. Weather in their area can be unpredictable, with conditions changing rapidly from sunny to stormy with lightning and heavy rain. This unpredictability has always been a challenge when managing practices and games. DeKalb needed a system that not only monitored weather on-site, as the nearest weather station at O’Hare airport provided inaccurate information for their decision-making.

Peter Goff, Athletic Director, knew they needed to invest in a solution that provided precise readings from their campus locations, automated their weather operations, and streamlined decision-making for all sports and coaches.

Ensuring IHSA Policy Compliance

DeKalb CUSD 428 is part of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), which sets rules and policies related to heat stress and lightning through their Sports Medicine Advisory Committee (SMAC).

Starting in the Fall of 2024, IHSA imposed new heat stress policies requiring schools to monitor Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) and take action based on readings through their activity guidelines. Depending on these readings, coaches and trainers may need to adjust practices by removing pads or scheduling more frequent water breaks. This process can be cumbersome and time-consuming.

By integrating Perry Weather, DeKalb CUSD 428 has automated this process. IHSA exertional heat stress policies are seamlessly embedded into their Perry Weather account. This integration allows real-time readings from their weather station installed on the press box to trigger automated messages providing clear and actionable steps on necessary practice modifications, hydration breaks, and equipment adjustments. As a result, the athletic staff at DeKalb CUSD 428 can focus more on coaching and caring for their athletes, spending less time on manual monitoring and decision-making. Coaches and athletic trainers receive concise instructions via text messages and mobile app notifications, ensuring they are always informed and prepared.

Why DeKalb Switched from Handheld WBGT Devices to Perry Weather

Before adopting Perry Weather, DeKalb CUSD 428 relied on Kestrel handheld weather devices. These devices often provided inconsistent and inaccurate data, making it difficult for the athletic staff to make confident decisions. Issues with Kestrel handheld devices included:

  • Inaccurate Readings: Kestrel devices frequently recorded higher than actual WBGT, leading to unnecessary practice alterations or cancellations.
  • Lack of Warning Components: Without automated warnings based on the integrated IHSA heat stress policy, trainers had to manually inform coaches of necessary alterations, resulting in poor communication.
  • Frequent Calibration: Kestrel units required frequent calibration and had to be set up 30 minutes before each practice, adding complexity and being prone to human error.
  • Manual Data Logging: Kestrel devices lacked the ability to automatically log WBGT values, requiring manual recording of readings on paper.

Switching to Perry Weather automated this entire process, providing real-time readings from their weather station installed on the press box, triggering automated messages to coaches and trainers via text message and mobile push notifications. These messages offer clear and actionable guidance on necessary practice modifications, hydration breaks, and equipment adjustments. Additionally, Perry Weather automatically logs WBGT values every 15 minutes, accessible via the Perry Weather dashboard, ensuring accurate and reliable data management.

Managing Lightning Delays Without The Guesswork

Weather in Illinois can change rapidly, with storms approaching quickly. Determining the proximity of lightning has always been a challenge. DeKalb CUSD 428 follows a rule that requires taking shelter for 30 minutes after lightning strikes within 10 miles. Before Perry Weather, this process was a guessing game, with constant questions about lightning distance, safety to resume play, and waiting time before resuming practice or games.

With Perry Weather, which utilizes the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN), DeKalb now has a reliable lightning detection and warning system to pinpoint exactly how far lightning strikes are from their campus. Once a strike is detected, coaches and trainers are automatically notified on their mobile devices and outdoor warning system sirens.

An outdoor warning system installed on their practice fields blares an audible siren followed by a spoken alert, instructing everyone to seek shelter until it’s safe to resume practice. Perry Weather also features a lightning countdown timer within the mobile app, allowing coaches and athletic trainers to monitor how long they must wait before activities can safely resume. This timer resets to 30 minutes whenever another strike is detected within the 10-mile radius.

When the countdown timer reaches zero, an all-clear message is sent to coaches and staff, accompanied by an audible message over the outdoor warning system sirens, informing everyone that it’s safe to resume practices or activities.

By integrating Perry Weather, DeKalb CUSD 428 has significantly improved their ability to manage lightning delays, ensuring the safety of their athletes and staff with precise, automated notifications and alerts.

One System for a Single Source of Truth

Before Perry Weather, DeKalb CUSD 428 coaches and trainers used different weather apps showing conflicting information, often pulling data from 20-30 miles away. Now that the entire district relies on Perry Weather, all coaches, athletic trainers, and administrators use the same system. When changes need to be made, they can be made seamlessly because the entire staff uses the same system, resulting in a universal solution with consistent information.

Taking Stress of Weather Off of the Athletic Trainer

Nate Viland has been the Head Athletic Trainer at DeKalb for 17 years. As the Head AT, his primary role is keeping athletes safe and healthy, which includes ensuring that weather conditions are conducive to safe playing conditions. Before Perry Weather, any time practices were impacted by heat, Nate had to frantically communicate to all coaches and staff about required changes based on the WBGT zones (yellow, red, black, etc.). This was a cumbersome process that often caused a lot of stress for Nate due to disagreements and challenging communication.

With Perry Weather, this stress has been completely removed. Coaches and staff now receive instant warnings on their mobile phones via push notification or text message. Nate has confidence that Perry Weather is updating him and his staff in real-time, and when changes need to be made, they can be made seamlessly because the entire staff uses the same application, receiving instant alerts with concise instructions on what to do next without relying on Nate to communicate these messages manually.

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