BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — Blount County is working to make sure all of its citizens have the best access to first responders through a new county-wide security system.
"Unfortunately in the world we live in today -- it's not if, it's when something's going to happen, and to give our first responders the tools they need to keep us safe, that's what this is all about," said Don Stallions, Director of General Services for the Blount County Government.
The county will be installing SARA into all its school and government buildings this fall. That's a product from Status Solutions that stands for "Situational Awareness Response Assistant."
This will tie together security cameras, emergency alerts and 911-center access to pinpoint what exact emergency is happening where, and which agency is the best to respond.
"You've got a complete unified messaging platform across all parties," said Scott Piotti, Business Development Manager for Status Solutions.
Here's how it works.
Every Blount County middle and high school teacher will be equipped with a personalized wearable panic button.
Elementary school teachers won't have those right now, but can use their computer keyboards as panic buttons if necessary.
"If a panic button is pushed the dispatchers immediately receive a notification on their terminal which will pop up and include live video feed," said Stallions.
Here's why this is important.
It's quiet, and won't catch the attention of a dangerous person on campus.
Each button will be registered to a specific teacher and have mapping capabilities.
"It will know where that person is on campus, even on the football field it'll know north end south end, it'll be able to distinguish between rooms," said Stallions.
When pushed the button will also show the 911 center live cameras at the school, which will show first responders what kind of emergency is happening.
"When the police officers, the fire department, EMTs respond to that area they know exactly what to expect and what apparatus they need, what equipment they need," said Stallions.
The county will start installing this software in schools this fall.
Some county offices already have similar panic buttons in place, but software and mapping technology will be installed to get each location to the same level of security.
Piotti said his company worked for years to make sure this system is effective.
"This started back in Columbine for us, so this is not something that we just developed recently," said Piotti. "This is something that's been in development and we've been deploying for 18 years."
Now, Blount County implementing it to make sure its students and county employees are safe in school and on the job.
Maryville City Schools are not included in this plan, but the county said the system has room to build, and they can add more as needed.
They'll also consider specialized buttons that signal things like allergic reactions or fights in school, that don't need police but could use the quick attention of a school nurse or SRO.