As a new school year kicks off, schools across the nation are installing panic buttons for an extra layer of security. “Banks have silent alarms they can use to notify authorities if a robbery is taking place. We can equip schools with similar technology so that officials could issue an alert if an armed intruder were to enter a school building,” said Rep.
Todd Rock, House Select Committee on School Safety. The panic button systems are being encouraged as part of comprehensive layered school security plans.
At a state level, some states are taking a proactive approach. The North Carolina General Assembly mandated during the 2013 session that every public school must have a panic alarm system installed by July 2015. The new requirement was part of a larger proposal to beef up school security, also requiring school boards to adopt emergency response plans and encouraging districts to hold system-wide safety exercises every two years. Statewide dollar matching grants associated with the panic button mandate have helped to fund and encourage these safety enhancements .
At a school district level, many officials are taking measures into their own hands. Located in the heart of South Carolina, Lexington – Richland School District Five has implemented the Tattletale ® Panic Button System, a campus wide wireless panic button system. According to Richland School District Five security expert Michael Poole, “It can be used covertly by different people at different times to send out an alert to several locations, including local law enforcement, key staff on campus, as well as the on-site deputy.”
Leaphart Elementary was the first to implement the wireless panic button system. “It’s not the only measure but it’s just another layer for us to ensure safety and security for all students.” says Kelly Brown, the principal at Leaphart Elementary.
At a local level, prominent principals are taking the lead to improve safety on their campus. In North Royalton, Ohio, St. Albert the Great Elementary School has also implemented the Tattletale ® Panic Button System. This is ideal for teachers during recess and adds another layer of protection to remote parts of campus. “As soon as they press the button, the police department gets notification of where the emergency button was pressed and they then can get to the school as quickly as possible,” Principal Ed Vittardi said.
At schools across the U.S., teachers and other personnel are given pendants, much like a car key fob. The system has a base unit that resides in the main office. The pendants work over a 1/2 mile radius. These can be worn on a lanyard around the neck, or on a key chain. The pendant has two buttons that must be pressed simultaneously to avoid accidental alarms. When pressed, the pendant automatically contacts law enforcement and a number of other predetermined safety and security personnel, alerting them to the incident and the incident’s location.
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