‘Panic Button’ App Lets Teachers Alert Police Immediately

Aug 5, 2019, 5:19 PM | Updated: 9:56 pm

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah – A new tool available to teachers and staff in the Canyons School District allows them to trigger an alarm and alert police to an emergency, quicker than ever.

Think of it like a panic button. It’s an alert that can get officers to a school faster than calling 911.

The app is called “DIR-S” (pronounced “duress”). It can be used on any smartphone or computer by every teacher and staff member.

Kierstin Draper is the principal at Canyon View Elementary. She said the school has been piloting the app for two years and said it works.

“We’ve done drills where we’ve been able to account for all of our students, which is over 430 students, within 2 to 3 minutes, on an individual basis, which was not possible before having this technology,” said Draper. “This way we can know immediately when something happens.”

The app lets teachers, staff and law enforcement communicate with each other in real time. When one person triggers an alert, everyone gets it. The app also lets teachers say whether their classrooms are safe or not, and account for every student. That way, police know where to go first.

“When a school goes into alert, all the teachers say, ‘I am here in my room and I am safe or unsafe,’” explained Preston Keller with DIR-S. “If their room is safe it goes green. If they are unsafe, it goes red. So within a matter of seconds you can have the whole school accounted for.”

Developed by a Utah company, the app is now being used in Logan, Cache County and Salt Lake City school districts.

Draper said it’s a great tool for all schools.

“Safety is number one and with something like this, it provides us with the preparation that we need to know that if there is something that happens, we can address it immediately and it can save lives,” she said.

All schools in the Canyons School District were expected to be trained on the app by Christmas break ,and then they can start using it in conjunction with law enforcement.

School officials said the app costs about $65,000 annually.

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‘Panic Button’ App Lets Teachers Alert Police Immediately