Arkansas to put "panic buttons" in every public school

Arkansas to put "panic buttons" in every public school

The Arkansas students now returning to school likely won't notice anything different, but new safety technology will soon be in place to speed response in the event of an emergency.

State Representatives Scott Baltz, Bruce Cozart and State Senator Jane English sponsored the 2015 School Safety Act that includes a partnership with Rave Mobile Safety enabling school authorities to respond to crises much faster through a panic button.

The mobile "Panic Button" app, will allow teachers and administrators to select the type of emergency, active shooter, police, EMS or fire through a simple five-button interface. The app immediately connects to a 911 operator, while also notifying other on-site personnel of the emergency. First responders will automatically receive data, such as the caller’s location, floor plans for the building and emergency exit locations.

The legislators who called for such a system in Arkansas' School Safety Act, said in an announcement that they believe the system -- which should be fully operational by Sept. 1 --  will help the more than half a million students that attend more than 1,000 schools in the state.

“We felt it imperative to put a solution like this in place to protect the students, teachers and administrators across the entire Arkansas public school system every day,” said Johnny Key, commissioner of the Arkansas department of public education. “Having the ability to instantaneously connect teachers and school administrators with 9-1-1 and other emergency personnel will give us, and Arkansas parents, a much greater sense of confidence as we begin a new school year.”

Users can also select what type of first response is needed in case of a medical emergency or a fire. The panic button system will build on the Smart911 system that is already available across the state.

“Every single day emergency calls are made from the school facilities for medical, fire or general safety issues,” said Chief Montie Sims, president of the Arkansas Association of Police Chiefs. “Now all response units can have more information, enhanced communication and ultimately arrive on scene faster to help the students or faculty members in need.”

About the Author

Derek Major is a former reporter for GCN.

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