Indianapolis Homeland Security rolls out school safety plan

Students practice drills regularly.

A new security program in Indianapolis aims to keep children safer in case of school emergencies by placing key information into the hands of first responders.

Those first responders could be arriving officers hunting a gunman roaming through school hallways or rescuers searching for children who fled classrooms to escape a tornado.

Now those first responders will have a new tool to guide them. At the Regional Operations Center (ROC) on the Indianapolis east side, Indianapolis Homeland Security officials showed Eyewitness News how it works.

On a large screen, a map displays showing the locations of all emergency vehicles in relation to schools.

"That's great situational awareness for our department. It tells us what's going on in and around our schools," said Major Tom Fries, IMPD.

IMPD and Marion County Homeland Security are using new computer tools to give first responders quick access to school floor plans along with their emergency response and evacuation procedures.

That information will also be available on police officer's laptops inside their squad cars, and on the smart phones of first responders.

In situations where seconds can save lives, this information is expected to save rescuers precious minutes.

"In a shelter-in-place scenario, children may be in a lockdown area; a safe place, and the building may have collapsed. This information will be immediately accessible to first responders," said Major Fries. That means getting children help faster in these situations.

Perry Township's 18 schools are the first in the county to get their information into the new system.

"It's another layer of protection for our children, another layer of protection for our staff. Anytime you can cut time of trying to gather information or pull information together, and you can pull that together in one spot and utilize that for the safety of kids, it's gonna save time. And time, from my perspective, will save lives," said Dr. Tom Little, Perry Township superintendent.

Indianapolis Homeland Security is working to get more schools on board. Other schools around the country are considering a model like the one in Indianapolis.

It's a pro-active move to put critical, life-saving information into the hands of firefighters, police and medics - any first responder at the scene.