Panic button app reduces response time

Staff Report

NEWBERRY COUNTY — The panic button application was installed into all the schools in the School District of Newberry County at the start of the school year and administrators and public safety first responders are already praising the results of the technology.

The panic button application has been used for several medical emergencies thus far and has worked without issue each time to notify 911, school administrators and first responders. It has also been used on at least two occasions for law enforcement response to the school for law enforcement issues other than an active threat.

“This is an incredible resource for the schools, public safety, and the people of Newberry County,” said Sheriff Lee Foster. “Many other schools, hospitals, and public safety agencies are starting to explore this technology, but we stand proud to say that Newberry County was the first agency in South Carolina to implement what we are convinced will make our children safer and provide a much faster response to the schools and hospitals should an emergency occur.”

The app alerts law enforcement, EMS, fire, and public safety as well as calling 911 at the same time. The app saves a significant amount of response time by immediately alerting first responders as the call is being received in the 911 center. Many of the teachers and staff throughout the district have commented that they feel better equipped and safer in an emergency because of this technology.

Foster said Newberry County was the first county in the nation to form a partnership including the school district, hospital and public safety. Foster said this spoke volumes about the partnerships already in place in Newberry County to make this possible.

“We are very fortunate to have such a positive working relationship with the agencies involved in this collaborative effort to enhance the safety of our schools and campuses. This cutting edge technology provides our staff members the ability to rapidly report any emergency situation to all first responders,” said Superintendent Jim Suber of the School District of Newberry County. “We believe that being proactive versus reactive greatly enhances school safety district-wide.”

The app was installed on all school district administrator phones last year and now is being installed on all teachers and other full time staff through the district.

In addition to the app, any 911 call from inside the geofences activates the 911 side of the program. In one situation, there was a 911 call from a student at an elementary school in the district. Because the call came from inside of the geofence, the 911 center immediately knew which school it was coming from. The 911 center was able to send a text message to the school administrators through the app so that the location of the phone was rapidly located. It turned out to be a student playing on the phone so it was quickly resolved and the situation was addressed.

Foster said the application is still being installed throughout the school district and to public safety throughout the county. Newberry County Memorial Hospital has completed installing the app on their employee’s phones.

“We have a clear proven track record of community partnerships and the use of technology to provide the best possible services to all of our citizens,” said Foster. “However, we refuse to rest on our laurels and instead intend to go out every day and prove this commitment over and over again.”

Staff Report