Panic buttons adding another level of security to schools

As Central Florida students head back to class wearing masks and social distancing, there are even more security measures in place that have nothing to do with COVID-19 prevention.

Because of Alyssa's Law, panic buttons can now give teachers a direct link to law enforcement with just a push.  In 2018, 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff was killed in the Parkland High School shooting. Her mother spoke earlier this year about the life-saving measure.

"It helps me to know that there will be some good coming out of the tragedy and the death of my daughter and that Alyssa will be honored and remembered in the state of Florida,” she said.

Jeff Kelly is an education specialist with Mutualink, the company that put a panic system in Volusia County Public Schools.

"What it is is an application that’s placed on a phone and can also be a fob in some technologies. The mutual aid technology takes that and at the press of a button automatically creates what we call a Mutualink incident and alerts the proper authorities as the application itself notifies all teachers and staff that you have a problem somewhere in your school,” he said.

He said the system has proven to reduce response time by 50 percent, which has the potential to save lives even in a high-stress moment.

"This is just human nature. The heart rate elevates to around 150 so people’s decision-making skills are limited right or they’re compromised, so with us with, a simple press of a button, it automatically dials 911, notifies all the proper authorities, and then by extension brings in radio, a walkie-talkie that a teacher or staff member might be carrying around and it also might bring in video from the school.”

Kelly said authorities can then determine if there are one or more suspects, what they are carrying, and where they are going. Making every second count, to save student lives.