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Smartphone App to Reduce Emergency Response Time
An average school shooting lasts less than 13 minutes, while the average police response time is 18 minutes. That's a five-minute gap where precious lives can be lost.
Those numbers were so unsettling to a group of local police officers they developed a new smartphone application called Hero911.
"And this app in many cases can speed the response time by a good 60 to 90 seconds," retired ISP Colonel and app developer Mike Snyders said.
Snyders is one of four masterminds behind the new life-saving device.
"We really developed this by police, for police," Snyders said.
Here's how it works: All teachers and staff get access to a panic button they can activate on their smartphones should there be a school shooting. Once that button is pushed, 911 is immediately called. But before dispatchers can even answer the phone, an emergency alert is sent out to officers in the area. The alert tells police the location of the initial threat based on GPS.
"So it takes time and stress away from the dispatchers knowing that they're going to be contacted, the officers are going to be contacted, via their smartphones," Jacksonville Police Chief Anthony Grootens said.
Teachers and school staff are contacted too. They will see a map with a red dot showing the place of the initial threat.
There is one concern.
"The concern would be, if there is a concern at all, that you get the number of people going there where law enforcement, local law enforcement, may not know the other law enforcement officers," Grootens said.
But here's what the app can do to prevent that confusion: Law enforcement will see all of the locations of every law enforcement officer in the area.
"On duty or off. Every federal, state, local county. All jurisdictions at the same time," Snyders said.
The application has now been downloaded by law enforcement in all 50 states. At least 10,000 police officers have it on their phones.
But in order for that two-way communication to work, schools have to have the app too. It will costs them $99 a month, plus a $2,500 setup fee.
The developers admit that sounds pricey, but they're hoping schools can implement the cost of the app into their security budget and have it running in many school districts by next school year.