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SLO County Sheriff unveils new app to speed up potential school shooting response

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office has unveiled a new app in case of an active shooter at a local school.

Templeton High School is one of the test sites for the Rave Panic Button Smartphone App. Eventually, more than 3,000 employees at nearly every school in the county will have it downloaded on their phones.

San Luis Obispo is the first county in California to launch it.

“It’s nice to know that we have this app now that is connected countywide,” said Nancy Needham, Templeton High School Assistant Principal.

She says 90 percent of school staff already have it downloaded on their phones.

“So a push of a button just puts everything into place,” Needham added.

During an emergency, seconds and minutes can be the difference between life and death.

At a press conference on Tuesday, Sheriff Ian Parkinson said only 31 percent of active shooter incidents last longer than five minutes.

“So response by law enforcement, response by the school in these instances is critical,” Parkinson said.

When it comes to using the app, the user just presses the red button labeled “active shooter” to be connected to a 911 operator.

“It happens instantly,” said Michele Nelson of Rave Mobile Safety.

An alert is also immediately sent to other faculty and staff on campus.

“It’ll give them the ability to lock down their classroom and protect their students,” Parkinson said.

So what’s the difference between using the app and simply calling 911?

“We know exactly where they are on campus,” Sheriff Parkinson explained. “So if they push the button and we locate their phone in room 200 at the school, we immediately know that information without having to ask.”

“It does make me feel safer because first responders will be able to get here faster,” said student Madison Ceja.

It’s the third tool being utilized alongside brand new mapping of every school and a firearms training simulator, all rolled out over the past three years. Sheriff Parkinson and the seven police chiefs in the county have worked together on the overall safety plan.

The goal is to have the app fully deployed by the end of this school year.

The Department of Homeland Security is paying for the use of the app in the county.

Arkansas and Seattle are some of the other areas already utilizing it.

It can also be used for other 911 calls, too, like medical emergencies or fires.

Alexa Bertola

Alexa Bertola

Alexa Bertola has been a Multimedia Journalist at KSBY for more than two years. She's a general assignment reporter. Story idea? Email her: abertola@ksby.com
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