LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Teachers, administrators and staff at more than 1,000 Arkansas schools will be able to quickly notify authorities if there’s a shooting or other emergency on campus under a “panic button” system that state officials announced Tuesday.
The schools are being equipped with the Rave Panic Button, a smartphone app that will quickly connect school employees with 911 and simultaneously notify on-campus staff in case of an emergency. The app allows users to select the type of emergency as they connect to authorities.
The program is being launched under a $950,000 contract the state Department of Emergency Management signed earlier this summer.
“We can now know that our children are going to be safe and we’re going to have the appropriate reaction time with the right people in place in our schools when they need it,” said Sen. Jane English, a Republican from North Little Rock who chairs the Senate Education Committee.
English co-sponsored a law enacted earlier this year requiring the state to have a panic button system in place for its schools by Sept. 1. Rave Mobile Safety, the Massachusetts-based company behind the app, said Arkansas marks the first statewide use of the school panic button system.
David Maxwell, state emergency management director, said it’ll be up to school superintendents to decide which faculty and staff will have access to the app and how to use it. Through the app, first responders will automatically receive information such as floor plans, emergency exit locations and the caller’s exact location.
Maxwell said the state’s contract for the app is for one year, and pays for installation and training. He said he expected the Legislature would continue funding the program beyond this coming year.
“This product will allow rapid communication from the school to 911 and first responders to better facilitate the reaction time, better facilitate knowledge of the facility, where things are happening, that sort of thing,” Maxwell said.
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