ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — When there is an emergency, people are taught to dial 911. For teachers and staff in St. Johns County Schools, it’s ‘press a button and help will come’.
In the event of an emergency, seconds matter. Mike Strausbaugh, the school district’s safety & security specialist, keeps a digital birds-eye-view in every St. Johns County School in the palm of his hand.
Every teacher and staff member is trained and equipped with a smart badge that has a ‘panic button’ installed.
“After the Parkland incident this became a mandate under the state law under Alyssa’s Alert that every school have a system that’s capable of notifying law enforcement,” Strausbaugh explained.
The technology SJCSD uses is from a crisis alert company known as Centegix. If an emergency occurred that requires law enforcement, as soon as an adult presses the button an alarm will go off. Red lights will start flashing and computers will switch to a screen take over.
The screen reads “Lockdown (Active Assailant, Shooter, Hostile Intruder, Imminent Nearby Danger).” Whoever presses the button, the system will ‘ping’ their location to responders. To Strausbaugh, the system is a ‘game changer’ when it comes to responding to emergencies.
Plus, the technology they have doesn’t have to be used to for hostile situations. Teachers and staff can use the card for events that do not require police. For example, if someone is experiencing a medical crisis, an adult can alert staff members to respond quickly.
“It’s quick and never underestimate the power of simplicity in an emergency,” Strausbaugh said.
While SJCSD uses Centegix, other school districts have the option to capitalize on similar tech.