A unique security system designed to keep students and faculty safer in school has been outfitted in one Stonington school and on Wednesday Eyewitness News got a firsthand look at it.
Pawcatuck's West Vine Street School is the first school in the district to be fully integrated with the panic button security system. Soon they will be installed in the high school and other schools.
Each classroom, along with the gym and library, has a red secure panic button. As soon as the alarm is triggered, simultaneously the police department, fire department and other agencies are notified.
It's all designed to save response time.
"This eliminates the need to call the office and then the office to call 911 and explain the problem and take away valuable minutes for a response," said Capt. Jerry Desmond of the Stonington Police Department.
As soon as a teacher or adult hits the panic button, a sequence of events begins.
The magnetic exterior doors automatically close and lock, while the police department is notified and can hear the activation alarm in each police cruiser.
The dispatch center can also see what is taking place from cameras mounted in the school hallways. The fire department and public works department hear the audible alarm through their portable radios at the same time.
This security system is unique in the fact that it was a collaborative effort between police department, fire department, and the board of education. The system was funded by the finance committee as a result of last December's deadly shooting in Newtown.
There are many particular parts to this system which includes fire protection. Those inside the building at the time the panic button is pressed can leave, but once the door closed no one can get in.
Kevin Burns of the Pawcatuck Fire Department said there is also an enunciator that identifies the room number where the panic button was activated.
Another security feature set to be added is curtains for all the windows. The system also incorporated a live active scanning system for guest's driver's license in order to verify that they are not a threat.
"This might be a solution that the teams come up with that we can share with others," said Desmond. "If we could do anything to help mitigate the problem throughout the country ... that's what we're all here for."
Copyright 2013 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.