by Terry Rogers
In an effort to enhance school safety, Milford School District Board of Education is considering implementing the RAVE Panic Button App. The app is a mobile school safety app that enhances emergency response by communicating details of an onsite crisis to teachers, administrative staff, resource officers while notifying first responders at the same time. The app has already been implemented and tested at Sussex Tech High School.
“All districts in the state have access to the app at no cost through the Delaware Department of Homeland Security,” Jon LoBiondo, Transportation Specialist, said. “If there is an emergency issue, such as a fire, active shooter or other emergency, they can push the app and activate the system. If there is an emergency and you call 9-1-1, the dispatcher is required to ask you a series of questions to determine the type of emergency and other details. You could be on the phone for two to three minutes before anyone is sent. Add the five or ten minutes for first responders to get there, and the app can eliminate as much as 15 to 20 minutes.”
School Board Member Jason Miller asked how the police, constables and fire department felt about adding the app and LoBiondo explained that there had been meetings with all affected organizations recently.
“As a first responder, I have some questions myself,” LoBiondo said. “If someone were to activate the system, how would first responders know what is actually happening. Is there going to be a time lapse when they arrive because they aren’t really sure what the issue is or does the app give them those details.”
According to the website for the RAVE Panic Button, the app initiates the call to 9-1-1 and displays crucial information such as where the call is coming from, who pushed the button, the type of emergency and key facility information. LoBiondo explained that the company would set up geozones around district schools where the app would be activated. School Board Member Christopher Miller asked if students would be given the app. LoBiondo said that would be something the board could determine.
“My thoughts would be absolutely not,” Thomas said. “Back in our day, pulling a fire alarm or calling in a bomb threat was a way to get out of school for a few hours. With today’s technology, students could disrupt school constantly simply by pressing the app. If there is an emergency with a teacher in an area without a phone, the kids will have cell phones to call 9-1-1, so they don’t really need the app.”
When asked if it would be mandatory for teachers to download the app, LoBiondo said that he did not think that would be possible since the district did not issue phones to teachers. Since the teacher would be using their personal phone, the district would just provide them with the opportunity to have the app and try to explain its importance.
LoBiondo said that he would be talking to the districts that had already implemented the program to see how well it was working and that Milford would provide extensive training to administrators, first responders and teachers before the app was completely implemented.
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