In a crisis incident, such as a mass shooting, every second counts. This is the driving force behind a new safety system that aims to minimize the time it takes to notify first responders and local law enforcement of the incident and to pinpoint the specific location so authorities know exactly where to go. Additionally, the ASR Alert Systems simultaneously notifies faculty, staff, and administrators within the building, as well as other buildings, of the attack and exact location.
According to the Center for Homeland Defense and Security K-12 school shooting database, since the Columbine H.S. massacre in 1999 there have been over 230 school shooting incidents resulting in over 300 deaths and almost 500 injuries. In 2018 alone, there were 24 school shootings, resulting in 35 deaths. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, lasted six minutes. Hundreds of rounds were fired; 17 students and staff were killed and another 17 were injured. Time was critical but it took 11 minutes for first responders to arrive on campus. The 911 system was overwhelmed and the first call, from a cell phone, was routed to the wrong law enforcement agency.
Now, schools are installing the ASR Alert System, a state-of-the-art safety tool, that will directly notify law enforcement of an incident in real time. The system could be considered a modern day school supply.
Here’s how it works: the school installs stationary wall-mounted activation points around campus. Teachers can wear mobile pendant lanyards, activated with a touch of a button. Once a button is activated, first responders will receive an instant alert via text and email, direct from the ASR system, detailing the exact location of the threat. Sirens and strobes will go off, alerting personnel and disorienting the active shooter or attacker. The system is wireless, un-hackable, and has a battery backup.
“Having knowledge of what’s going on and where it’s going on is important,” says Hector Delgado, president of ASR Alert Systems, noting in the case of Stoneman Douglas shooting, “people didn’t know what was going on.”
Until now, kids and teachers have been told to run, hide, and make an emergency phone call. But that can be overwhelming in a dangerous situation. Unlocking your phone can take multiple attempts, which translates to time. For example, Delgado says sometimes people run in the wrong direction — toward the incident, instead of away from it. With this system, authorities will be alerted when and where the incident is actually happening. “We’re empowering students, teachers, and faculty members to be responsible for their own safety and survival,” says Delgado, a retired United States Navy SEAL Lieutenant Commander and federal agent. “You don’t need to have a title to be a leader in these types of situations.”
Jupiter Christian School in Jupiter, Florida, which has 800 students in grades pre-K through 12, was the first school in the country to install the ASR system.
“This is here to keep all of us safe. We pray that we never, ever actually need to use it,” says Jacob Godino, the school’s director of operations.
The school worked with local law enforcement, who toured the campus with them. Then Jupiter Christian installed buttons and sirens all over campus, including in their courtyard which has a heavy traffic flow. Delgado came to the school to personally train the staff.
“For us, it’s the right thing to do,” says Godino. “This system helps keep our kids safe.”
Saint Andrews Episcopal Academy in Fort Pierce, Florida, which has 300 students from pre-K through 12, installed the ASR system last spring.
“Parkland galvanized us,” says Rhonda Blakey, the school’s director of development, concluding, “Our most paramount concern is if we were under threat what is the best thing we can do to save as many lives as we can?”
They realized so much of a crisis comes down to handling response times. The school, which has an upper and a lower campus, designated different points on campus for the safety alerts.
“Having ASR with that quick response within seconds can make such a difference,” she says. “That really was a game changer for us.”
The ASR system also can be used for medical emergencies. Buttons are often placed in cafeterias and gymnasiums, to notify nurses and those on campus who are CPR-trained, so students in distress can receive immediate medical help.
“We’re saving time, saving seconds,” says Delgado. “That’s how you save lives.”
ASR Systems is also available and currently installed in other locations including hospitals, airports, workplaces, and places of worship. For more information, including a tour, visit: https://asralertsystems.com.
Kristen Castillo, [email protected]