SLO County teachers now have personal panic buttons to stop an active shooter

5 things parents should know about school emergencies

Here are five tips for parents on how to prepare for and respond to school emergencies, from San Luis Obispo County school officials.
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Here are five tips for parents on how to prepare for and respond to school emergencies, from San Luis Obispo County school officials.

School employees in San Luis Obispo County have a new tool to quickly respond to an active shooter on campus, possible saving lives.

The Sheriff’s Office announced Tuesday that most public and private schools now have access to a smart phone app that allows users in the case of an active shooter to immediately alert law enforcement and send a message to other employees with the press of a single button.

The Rave Panic Button smartphone app also uses GPS to communicate to law enforcement the exact location of the incident, according to a news release. More than 3,000 licenses to use the app were purchased with funds from Department of Homeland Security grants.

The announcement, which included a news conference at Templeton High School, comes just days after a man stormed into a bar in Thousand Oaks and killing 12 people. It was the 307th mass shooting in the United States in 2018, according to Business Insider.

Schools in the United States are often the targets of mass shootings. According to an FBI study, about 15 percent of 250 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2017 took place on elementary, middle and high school school campuses.

In 2003, Arroyo Grande High School might have been the site of a mass shooting if not for the quick thinking of two 16-year-old students. They tackled and pinned down a 15-year-old boy who had held up a handgun and ordered a class of 30 students to sit down.

Now, San Luis Obispo County is the first in the state to have the app technology, the Sheriff’s Office said.

It’s the most recent step in a larger plan by the Sheriff’s Office to prepare for a potential active shooter scenario by improving training and protocols. Officers in every agency in the county now have access to a use-of-force simulator to train for active shooter incidents, in addition to shared maps, protocols and communication standards across the county, according to the news release.

“It’s unfortunate that active shooter incidents are becoming more and more a part of our lives. I’m hopeful it never happens here. My goal is to never have to use any part of this plan,” Sheriff Ian Parkinson said in the news release.

Monica Vaughan: 805-781-7930; @MonicaLVaughan

Cal Poly San Luis Obispo students talk about the fears and feelings at the university on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018, a day after an alleged online mass shooting threat put the campus on edge. Police, both at Cal Poly and at Poly High School in Long

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