Spanish Fork High says emergency app helped during hoax call lockdown

Mar 30, 2023, 12:59 PM

SPANISH FORK, Utah — The Nebo School District credits a new phone app for quick communication and direction during Wednesday’s lockdown after hoax calls came in about a shooting threat.

The app is called Disaster Incident Report and Security, or DIR-S.

District spokesperson Lana Hiskey said staff members at Spanish Fork High School downloaded and were trained on how to use the app last week.

“You could call this either coincidental or a blessing,” she said. “Just a week ago, we were piloting an app.”

The principal of the school put it to use after police officers swarmed the campus Wednesday morning, saying a call about a shooting threat had come into dispatch.

“The way we heard about this yesterday was police officers running into the school building, armed all in gear,” Hiskey said. “We have a shooter, active shooter, and we have people down. That was their first, initial information. So, they went ahead and had to let everyone know immediately, so the app came in perfect timing.”

Hoax calls of shooting threats to Utah schools came from out of the country

The school’s principal, dean of students and assistant principals have the ability to send an alert out to all staff members through the app.

“Our principal, he went ahead and hit the alert button, and what that did is it alerted every single one of our staff that there was an incident and to go into lockdown,” Hiskey said.

Staff members then had to respond by pressing red, indicating they weren’t safe, or green, they were safe.

“He did have a couple of red buttons, and so then, there’s a chat feature — he went on and chatted with that individual, and they said, ‘I’m sorry, I mistakenly hit that red button. I’m going to change it back to green,'”Hiskey said.

Everyone with DIR-S, including local members of law enforcement, can communicate with each other through the app.

“When a teacher chatted in and said, ‘Hey, I don’t know where Johnny is, has anyone seen Johnny?’ The principal was walking down the hall, saw Johnny, texted the teacher back, and said ‘Yes, I’ve got Johnny,” Hiskey said.

She said staff members can also alert administrators about other incidents through the app, like a fire or an earthquake.

Hiskey said the district plans to continue its pilot phase with DIR-S by implementing it at another school.

“It worked extremely for us the first time,” she said.

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Spanish Fork High says emergency app helped during hoax call lockdown