Columbia, Ill. school launches active shooter app

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COLUMBIA, IL (KTVI)-- Police officers and tech experts picked a Columbia, Illinois school for the launch of a new, potentially life-saving tool for "active shooter" emergencies. 

Retired Illinois State Police Colonel Mike Snyders who spearheaded the new SchoolGuard smartphone APP along with active Illinois State Police narcotics investigator Nate McVicker, created an “active shooter” scenario at Parkview Elementary right after the students got out of school Tuesday.

The school gym was full of targets (about 2 dozen law enforcement officers and school authorities selected for the event).

A man posing as a shooter pulled an unloaded starter’s pistol from a backpack.

Once he started pulling the trigger, a recording of the Sandy Hook 911 call played over a loud speaker.   

The scoreboard clock started ticking, tracking the elapsed time as the “shooter” walked through the bleachers, tapping victims saying “bang” each time, signifying they’d been shot.

He’d tapped everyone within 1:30 seconds.

“It really hits home when we’re listening to the 911 call from sandy hook, for sure.  The time is forever – that 2 minutes before it was dispatched,” said Columbia, IL, School Superintendent, Dr. Gina Segobiano.  “It`s amazing.  He was taking his time and going very slow - and one by one - and that`s when your heart rate gets fired up.  Time is crucial.”

In a 2nd run-through, Illinois Emergency Management Agency Director, Jonathon Monken, was armed with the SchoolGuard app.

He simply pushed a button. The APP instantly called  911, alerts the new Hero911 network of any on and off duty police officers within 10 miles of the school – from any agency.  The APP also sent a map to the officers and every teacher in the school, pinpointing the origin of the emergency, all in 3-6 seconds.

“If you’re at one of the building and you see it’s occurring at the other end, it might be a good idea to get everybody out,” said Columbia Police Chief, Joe Edwards. 

“If my alert goes off I can be at this school in 2 minutes.  I’ve timed it before.  Seconds truly save lives,” McVicker said.   

“Basically 1 life is lost every 15 seconds. So the sooner we can get there and put a stop to that, the more lives we’re going to save,” Edwards said.

“It`s all about getting someone there, a police officer there, as quick as possible.  This system is truly going to do that.  Seconds save lives,” McVicker said.   

National stats show the average duration ofschool shooting was 12and a half minutes and the average police response was 18 minutes, McVicker said.

School districts have to pay a one-time $2500 set up fee for the SchoolGuard program and $99/month thereafter. 

McVicker said the cost amounted to less than ½ penny per student, per day, in an average district. 

He said about 3000 active and firearms qualified retired law enforcement officers had signed up for the Hero911 volunteer network so far, about half them in Illinois. 


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