Dothan City Schools has adopted a new crisis alert system that gives staff the ability to silently signal administrators or first responders during an emergency with just a few simple clicks.
The proposal was spearheaded by DCS’s School Security Officer Steve Parrish after he visited schools in Mobile and Baldwin counties and saw similar programs.
All DCS staff will wear a badge along with their ID card which will have a button that can be pressed in different sequences for different alert options.
“This will give peace of mind to employees,” Parrish said. “With the touch of a button, you can signal an emergency. Having quick response time is the key to saving the lives of our children and staff in an emergency situation.”
Parrish said the program can be used to warn of multiple different types of emergencies, from an altercation between students to active shooter situations, and it eliminates staff from having to make a phone call in an urgent situation.
“If a staff member presses the button three times in a row it will send a signal to the office, the on-duty resource officer, and the school nurse so they can all respond quickly to where the incident is occurring,” Parrish said. “If they press it eight or ten times then it will automatically put the school in a state of lockdown and immediately notify the police and fire rescue.”
The first three schools to have the program implemented this year will be Carver 9th Grade Academy, Dothan Preparatory Academy, and Dothan High School. Parrish estimated the cost to be around $92,000, or $8,500 to $9,000 per school per year under a three-year contract.
“From a safety standpoint, we hope to have the program implemented in all Dothan schools soon,” Parrish said. “These first three will be like the pilot program, but the contract states that we can add schools once the budget side is approved.”
Parrish stressed the importance of quick response times in emergency situations like an active shooter.
“The Stoneman Douglas shooter in Parkland, Florida, was in and out of that school in less than five minutes,” Parrish said. “That should illustrate the need to reduce notification and response time.”
Sydney McDonald is a Dothan Eagle staff writer and can be reached at email@example.com or 334.712.7906. Support her work and that of other Eagle journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today at dothaneagle.com.