March 06--Teachers at Nipomo, Templeton and Coast Union high schools will soon have a new safety tool in their pocket -- and other San Luis Obispo County schools won't be too far behind.
The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office is working to launch a new app called Rave Mobile Safety with those three schools that would allow teachers to notify the department and emergency responders of a potential shooter on campus via the click of a button. This would help speed up response times in those critical minutes when an emergency situation is taking place at a school, Sheriff Ian Parkinson said.
"We saw this and thought, 'This is a great idea,' " Parkinson said. "One of the most critical things we can do (in an emergency situation) is quickly respond, get in and stop it as quick as possible."
The app can also be used to notify other staff members on campus of a suspicious person or potential emergency event, Parkinson said.
SLO County will be the first agency on the West Coast to use the app. It's already in use at more than 2,000 schools across the country, according to the Rave website.
The purchase of the app and local software to go with it is funded by grant money from the Department of Homeland Security. Parkinson said the app and licensing cost roughly $100,000.
The Sheriff's Office will launch the app at Nipomo, Templeton and Coast Union high schools first because those are the largest schools within unincorporated areas under the office's jurisdiction. Parkinson said the app will launch in April, and at the rest of the county's schools during the summer.
Money from the grant has also gone toward the department's mapping project that created 3-D maps of each local school that can be shared among emergency responders if they are unfamiliar with the building they are entering. That way they can quickly pinpoint where they need to go and how best to get there, Parkinson said.
Parkinson said San Luis Obispo County is the only county to his knowledge to undertake an effort to map all of its schools.
All of it is an effort to be prepared to respond quickly if a mass-shooting event like the most recent one in Parkland, Florida on Valentines Day were to happen locally.
"These are becoming more and more a part of our lives," Parkinson said. "Hopefully it never happens here -- I hope it never happens anywhere again."
Kaytlyn Leslie: 805-781-7928, @kaytyleslie
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