As students return to school for a new year, teachers in several school districts in the Carolinas will have a new panic button on their phones to alert police if a school is attacked or faces another emergency.
According to WCNC, the Newberry County, South Carolina school district will install a new app on the phones of teachers and administrators at the district’s 13 schools, connecting school officials with law enforcement and the local hospital.
Todd Miller, COO at Rave Mobile Safety, said in an email, “One of the key reasons so many different types of organizations are leveraging this technology is because it’s tied directly to 9-1-1 and leverages the technology we all carry already—our phones.”
When a teacher hits the panic button, the app will tell police who activated the button and where. The app will also have the schools’ floor plans to help direct first responders to the right part of the school, WCNC reports. Teachers can also text with 911 dispatchers through the app if they can’t talk.
He said Newberry County Memorial Hospital employees also have the Rave panic button apps on their phones if they have an emergency.
Todd Johnson, with the Newberry Sheriff’s Office, said the county’s schools are spread out over more than 600 miles, according to WCNC.
“We’re notifying in most cases more than 100 people. Not just the faculty of the school, but all of the first responders in under five seconds. That normally could take three to five minutes,” Johnson told the television station.
Miller said Hoke and Henderson counties in North Carolina also use the app.
Henderson County schools superintendent Bo Caldwell told local television station WYFF, “When you start looking at a school safety plan, it’s fluid, it’s ongoing.”
He told the station that the new app connects directly to the county 911 system and has separate buttons for police, fire, medical and active shooter.
Miller said a recent active shooter drill in Hoke County using the Rave app cut response times by half.
Hoke Sheriff Hubert Peterkin told WRAL last month that once someone hits that panic button for an active shooter, every officer in the area will rush to that school. “Everybody is coming,” he said.
Charles Duncan: 843-626-0301, @duncanreporting