'Panic Button' app used weekly in local schools

KING 5's Michelle Li reports.

EVERETT, Wash. -- Everett schools were a pilot program of the app in late 2014 and since then, six more school districts in the county have signed up. Soon, Mukilteo and Edmonds schools will have access to the app as well. 

It is funded by grant money and allows Snohomish County schools to use the app at no additional cost as long as their 911 centers use a smart 911 system. 

"Our teachers and faculty members are protecting the kids at the school until first responders can get there," says Kurt Mills, SNOPAC 911 emergency communications executive director. "It gives us a tool to communicate with them instantaneously that we never had before."

The app is a one-touch button that starts a dialogue between teachers, faculty and law enforcement. 

So far, schools in Snohomish County have used it for missing children, suspicious people at schools, bomb threats and medical emergencies. In one incident a student's gun fell out of his backpack and shot off during a basketball game. A teacher activated the PanicButton app.

Mills says if there is something happening near a school that might cause it to go on lockdown, dispatchers can push alerts to the school. He says the app has transformed the way schools and law enforcement communicate.

"It's just become second nature to them and so they're comfortable using the tool," says Mills. "They're comfortable talking with us and communicating with us and getting the information back. It's really proved fruitful."

Other schools across the country are using the app. For example, in 2015, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson implemented the app for all K-12 schools. Businesses and universities are also using the app for added safety.

Copyright 2016 KING


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