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Hancock County schools connect with first responders with panic button app

The app, called RAVE Panic Button, connects teachers directly with the people they need.

GREENFIELD, Ind. (WTHR) - First responders in Hancock County are debuting a new way to keep kids safe while they’re at school.

Teachers can now get in touch with police and firefighters instantly in case of an emergency.

The app, called RAVE Panic Button, connects teachers directly with the people they need. Whether they're dealing with a medical emergency, active shooter or anything in between, they can send an alert in an instant with the push of a button.

"It's a happy day and an unfortunate day for us," said John Jokantas, 911 Director for Hancock County. "We unfortunately look back at all the incidents that have occurred at schools and businesses around the country. And in Hancock County, we wonder 'what if?'"

Now teachers will have the answer right on their phone.

"Seconds matter in emergency situations for us," said Wes Anderson, director of school and community relations for Southern Hancock Schools. "The ability to get first responders to us more quickly and also to get notification out to all of our administrators with one push of one button helps us begin to formulate our plan to an emergency situation."

Hancock County is the first in the state to use the program. It includes 4 public school districts and 3 private schools, connecting them with first responders by sending a notification straight to their phones, whether they're working or off-duty. It also alerts other people in the building when the button is pushed.

"It may give us 30 seconds to a couple minute head start to get there in case of an emergency or active shooter or whatever kind of situation it is," said Shirley Police Chief Brian Pryor.

About 1,200 teachers and staff in Hancock County have access to the panic button app. It costs the county $11,000 per year. That's money they're spending on something they hope to never have to use.

Anything that we can do above and beyond helping keep our children safe is wonderful," said Susan Fries, who is the executive director for Geist Montessori Academy.

"This is a nationwide crisis," said Greenfield Police Chief Jeff Rasch. "We see far too often these incidents occurring and no one has really come up with a magical answer how to safeguard our schools, but I think this is going to be another tool to help everyone."