On June 29, 2020, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Alyssa’s Law SB 70 into state law. By the 2021-2022 school year, every public school in Florida must have an approved silent alarm system in place. By mandate, the alarm must be directly connected to local law enforcement to alert them when there is an emergency. Alyssa’s Law has already been passed in New Jersey; it is currently in committee in New York and has been introduced in Nebraska. The passage of the law in Florida is especially meaningful. It was named for Alyssa Alhadeff, who was killed along with 16 others on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
Benefits of Silent Alarms
Installing a silent alarm for schools increases the safety of students, staff and visitors every day. Parents and families of students and staff experience greater peace of mind knowing that their loved ones are better protected while they are at school. Students may demonstrate increased focus and attention in class with the knowledge that their school has a mobile app that will connect them directly with local law enforcement agencies in an emergency.
Panic Button for Schools
Also referred to as a panic button, a silent alarm puts the ability to instantly alert law enforcement into the hands of every individual carrying a smartphone. The user can simply tap to report a school shooting or other incident in progress. The app automatically notifies authorities with the user’s physical location and profile. Any medical information and emergency contacts associated with their profile are also automatically transmitted. Additional integrations further speed response and provide first responders with vital information about the scene.
Seconds count in an emergency
The average active shooter scenario lasts only 600 seconds. In that brief ten minutes, one school shooter can end the lives of many students, teachers and administrators. It is vitally important to shorten the response time for law enforcement when an active shooter is on the premises. With each second so valuable, schools cannot waste time – they need to act as quickly as possible. It has been well documented that communications shortfalls have caused delays during incidents that have cost lives. A mobile app for school shootings can help to reduce the time it takes for first responders to reach the scene and take action.
Providing Vital Information to First Responders
The best silent alarm app for schools does more than just alert law enforcement of an incident in progress. The more information you can deliver to responders, the better equipped they will be to minimize the damage, injuries and loss of life. For example, the integration of e-mapping technology can greatly aid law enforcement in their response as they approach the school. Using interactive campus maps with photographs of specific architectural details, they can identify the precise location of the shooter and move more quickly to end the incident.
Additionally, access to live cameras on demand helps responders assess the situation in real time and make tactical adjustments as needed in the moment. Officers en route to the school can receive specific information and images showing which door to use to enter the facility. That door can be remotely opened as part of remote door lock and unlock capabilities which restrict the movements of the shooter while enabling responders to move rapidly wherever needed throughout the facility.
There is even technology that can detect the presence of a firearm before a single shot is fired and automatically notify law enforcement for rapid response. And with a silent alarm app integrated with the school’s PA system, it is possible to make campus-wide announcements to alert students and teachers, while potentially deescalating the situation through direct communication with the shooter.
Don’t wait for a tragedy to occur
Alyssa’s Law, or another law with similar objectives, is likely to be signed in every state in the future as we work to put an end to school shootings. Schools should not delay in installing the life-saving technology of a silent alarm or panic button system. And while some states may allocate specific funding towards purchasing and deploying this technology, grants like School Safety Grant make it possible for every school in the country to act immediately. The parents who have experienced this immense tragedy know too well how important it is not to wait.