The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office, School District of Newberry County, Newberry County Memorial Hospital, and Newberry County Public Safety Department announced a major step forward in the use of technology for school and hospital safety.
Today, they revealed a first in the State of South Carolina, technology called the Rave Panic Button.
The Rave Panic Button allows teachers and staff at a facility to use an app to notify 911, everyone on campus, and first responders immediately when there is an active threat or other emergency on that campus.
“Once the app is activated, the caller can communicate with 911 directly by voice or text,” said Sheriff Lee Foster. “While 911 is communicating with the caller, the entire staff of that facility, school district administration, and first responders have already received the information and can begin implementation of the pre-established response plans for that facility.”
“Because this is an app,” said Jim Suber, Superintendent of the School District of Newberry County, “it works on both cell phone signal and wifi.” “Because many of our schools do not have cell signal in central areas of the school but do have wifi throughout, we are certain to have sufficient signal to get this information out to everyone for their safety and the safety of our children.”
The technology is also being implemented at Newberry County Memorial Hospital, who is a longtime partner with law enforcement and the school district, and like the school district, this will allow rapid notification to all staff, administrators, and first responders of an emergency situation at any campus of the hospital.
The app allows the person using it to select an active shooter, medical, fire, or other police emergency making it useful for much more than just an active threat on campus. The app sends a message through the app, a text message, and an email to everyone listed for that facility to receive such alerts as soon as the app is activated.
Once the app is activated, the 911 center can then communicate with the caller or send messages to everyone who received the activation with such information like the location of the threat, the description or identity of the threat, and other pertinent information. Those who have had the app activated can also notify the 911 center if there is an injury or other life threatening event in their area to speed the response to that specific area of the campus.
The app works using geo fences around facilities and because of this technology, the partners have been able to create areas for the schools as well as athletic facilities, and other facilities used by the school district and/or hospital during their normal business operation.
To prevent someone from getting the app without proper authorization, your telephone number must first be entered into the syst em and associated with one of the schools. If you download the app and are not associated with a school, you will receive a rejection message.
Sheriff Lee Foster said that these organizations as well as the Newberry Police Department, Newberry Fire Department, Whitmire Police Department, EMS, and others have continually trained together for emergencies in the school and hospital settings for years and this technology was offered to Newberry County first because of the working relationship between these agencies and our demonstrated nationally recognized expertise in school safety and the use of emerging technology in law enforcement. These agencies are prepared to respond to any emergency 24/7/365 to protect the citizens of Newberry County and this training enables them to work together not just for an active shooter but in any emergency.
“This is a game changer,” said Sheriff Foster. “We are so proud to be hand selected to be the first in South Carol ina to implement this technology based upon our reputation of partnership, training, and commit to the safety of our schools and hospital. We are very blessed to enjoy such a working relationship about each of these invaluable partnerships.’
“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, said Superintendent Jim Suber. “This cutting edge technology will give our staff members the ability to rapidly report any emergency situation to first responders. We believe that being proactive versus reactive will greatly enhance school safety district-wide.”
“This is an example of our great working relationship to keep the citizens of Newberry city and county safe. We are committed and dedicated in our partnership through new technology and innovated ideas,” said Newberry Police Chief Roy McClurkin.
Sheriff Foster said that the partnership went deeper than the implementation but went to the funding. The Newberry County Sheriff’s Office was able secure a reimbursement for 90% of the cost of application, so the partners split the remaining balance meaning this innovative program only cost each agency $2,500 each.
“Studies show that one person dies for every 20 seconds that a shooter has access to their targets,” concluded Foster. “If this application takes two minutes from the response time, we have saved six lives.”