Content updated on 6/1/2021 with updated reporting.
This past February marked the 3-year anniversary of the shocking and tragic school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. An active assailant entered the school premises on February 14, 2018, and started shooting indiscriminately at students and teachers killing 17 innocent people and injuring another 17, making this school shooting one of the deadliest in history.
One of the victims of this heartbreaking event was 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff. Her mother, Lori Alhadeff took the loss of her daughter and turned it into action by prompting a call to update school safety protocols and better security measures for K-12 schools across the United States. As a result, “Alyssa’s Law” was created. Named after Alyssa, this legislation would require some kind of silent panic button or alarm in all public schools with a direct link to law enforcement agencies.
The bill has been passed unanimously in New Jersey, the Alhadeff’s home state, as well as in Florida, and is beginning to be recognized nationally.
Alyssa’s Law in New York
Family members of Alyssa and New York lawmakers are working to make sure a tragedy like this doesn’t happen again. One of Alyssa’s family members advocating Alyssa’s Law is sixteen-year-old Jadyn Turner, who was born only months apart from her cousin, Alyssa. The two cherished fun summers at Long Beach Island in New Jersey and had an extremely close friendship, according to CBS New York.
“On Wednesday February 14, 2018, my cousin Alyssa was sitting in her English class at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. In one single moment, everything changed. She took her last breath after being shot 10 times. Never again, would Alyssa attend her English class, kick a soccer ball, or run into the freezing cold ocean. The reality is too common for too many victims of school shootings. This is why we must pass Alyssa’s Law so that I can go to school feeling safe, and not one more child has to run out of the school screaming because they saw a bullet go through a classmate in Math class”, said Turner.
Senator David Carlucci (D-Rockland/Westchester) and Assemblywoman Elle Jaffee (D-Suffern) held a press conference in support of installing silent panic alarms in all public schools in New York State, according to the Rockland Times.
Carlucci explained that a silent panic alarm in every school in the state is a common-sense safety measure that will allow law enforcement and first responders to get to the emergency quickly when seconds are precious. He continued by saying that he hopes these alarms are never used, but as teachers and educators deal with the prospect that a school shooting may occur, this next step is simple yet crucial to improving their safety.
Jaffee also spoke, saying that Alyssa’s Law must be passed so that children feel safe in classrooms and parents never have to feel fearful sending their kids to school. “Putting silent alarms in schools will keep our students safe and will alert authorities of active shooters and other non-fire emergencies, without causing panic and distress”, Jaffee said during the press conference.
At the end of the press conference, Jadyn’s father, Jordan Turner, read a statement on behalf of Alyssa’s Mother, Lori Alhadeff.
“As we approach the 2-year commemoration, my heart burns with a pain and longing for Alyssa. Alyssa was everything, a bright scholar, a talented soccer player, a wonderful friend to those who knew her, and the center of our family unit. I remember sending a text to Alyssa during the incident, and I told her to run and hide and that help was on the way. Unfortunately, that help had not arrived. Had common-sense school safety measures been in place that day there is a chance that Alyssa and some of the other students and adults murdered would have survived. Time equals life, the faster we can get law enforcement to the scene, the more lives we can save.”
How a Panic Button Can Help During a School Emergency
During a school emergency, seconds and minutes count. These seconds and minutes could be the difference between life and death. All too often we see confusion and panic during an emergency situation, and by the time law enforcement arrives the event is over. Having the ability to quickly notify 9-1-1 of a school emergency along with critical information to assist first responders as they arrive to the scene is crucial.
Unfortunately, when an active assailant was terrorizing students and staff in Parkland just over two years ago, teachers on the third floor were completely unaware of the situation unfolding below them. They unknowingly allowed their students to leave the classrooms as they believed there was a fire alarm sounding through the hallways. Communication during this terrifying time could have prevented students and teachers from putting themselves in danger.
With a mobile panic button application, users can simultaneously reach 9-1-1, first responders, and school staff with just the touch of a button. Whether an active assailant, medical, fire, or other emergency, law enforcement and first responders will have access to this information and will be better equipped to arrive on scene prepared. The accurate reporting of what type of incident is occurring as well as precise location data helps reduce emergency response times, which could ultimately end up saving a life.