A computer program can replace the emergency response plan binders and folding maps first-responders often rely on in emergency situations at schools and other public places, sheriffs of three local counties said Wednesday.
The software program can include building floor plans, the location of utility connections, possible explosion hazards and other information first-responders need in an emergency, they said.
The Rapid Responder program, being promoted by the New York State Sheriffs Association, is being offered for adoption by schools in Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties.
“It’s all about protecting our children. It’s a great, a really great tool,” said Saratoga County Sheriff Michael H. Zurlo. “This is web-based. The three-ring binders are a thing of the past.”
The sheriffs association has partnered with a private software developer, Prepared Response of Seattle, to launch the program in New York state.
“Public safety and in particular school safety is on everyone’s minds these days,” said sheriff’s association Deputy Director Chuck Gallo.
The secure computer program was developed 14 years ago in response to the Columbine High School shootings in Colorado, said Prepared Response CEO Jim Finnell.
“It gets information to first-responders quickly, so they can make smart decisions,” he said at a news conference Wednesday at the Gideon Putnam Hotel and Resort in Saratoga Springs.
On-site security cameras can also be connected to the system, giving first-responders real-time information, Finnell said.
“This is all very secure,” he said. “It is certified by the Department of Homeland Security as qualified antiterrorism response technology.”
To date, Zurlo said the Galway, Saratoga Springs, Stillwater and Waterford-Halfmoon school districts in Saratoga County have signed up for the program, and he hopes others will also adopt it.
Overall, 35 districts in 10 New York counties have signed on, and it is in use in 26 other states.
Participation costs districts $99 per school per month, and they must sign a three-year contract. The cost is eligible for partial state aid reimbursement, Finnell said.
School districts in Warren and Washington counties are in the process of joining, the sheriffs in those counties said.
“It’s light-years ahead of what we’ve had in the past,” said Warren County Sheriff Nathan “Bud” York.
In addition to schools, Finnell said the program is suitable for other large public buildings, like hospitals, transportation centers, factories and shopping malls, providing first-responders with information on incidents at those locations.
“The point of the system is that it’s consistently consistent,” Finnell said.
Images and information can be accessed on desktop computers, laptops and tablet devices, he said.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County