WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (FOX 13) - Seconds can mean the difference between life and death during an active shooter situation. And seconds is what it will soon take to notify everyone in any given Pasco County school, along with law enforcement, of an emergency thanks to a smartphone app that will soon be in the hands of every student and teacher in the county.
Hours of active shooter training prepares students and teachers for the worst, but no amount of training can make up for a lightning-fast law enforcement response.
"Every second counts,” Pasco County School Resource Officer Lt. Troy Fergueson. “The average active shooter incident is over in less than six minutes."
Pasco County Schools is launching a program that will help school staff and students communicate with law enforcement at the push of a button.
The system is called CrisisGo. It's an app that can be installed on cell phones and computers.
During an emergency, faculty can hold down a button, notifying the rest of the school and law enforcement. It also sets off a loud alarm, similar to an Amber Alert.
"It empowers them with the knowledge to know how to react and during an incident we can feed intelligence through those avenues as well," Fergueson said, adding the idea follows the advice of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Commission, which looked into ways to speed up response to a school shooting.
"Some of the recommendations for best practices was to really make sure you had a reliable communications capability and the means for anyone on campus to activate and active threat response protocol," said Fergueson.
The app also has a geo-locator which helps law enforcement pinpoint people in trouble and reunify families after an emergency.
Wesley Chapel High School Assistant Principal Erik Hermansen says this a natural evolution in school safety.
"Being able to have information and get information to them and make them feel as safe as possible in school is important and it's just the progression as we move forward," Hermansen said.
The district plans to test the CrisisGo app over the summer and will gradually introduce it into every school during the next school year.
The program will cost about $200,000 over three years. A federal grant will cover that entire price tag.