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Cass County implements real-time emergency response system in local schools

(PHOTO: Marlo Lundak WOWT)
Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 10:32 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Cass County is implementing a new emergency response system in nearly all of the county’s public schools that will essentially act as a real-time text chain between school staff and law enforcement.

It works through an app called In Force 911 that will be installed on teachers’ tablets and smartphones, giving them access to emergency support with the push of a button.

“In the time of need, say a shooter or disturbance, medical emergency or any other such emergency, they can alert rescuers or responders from that particular classroom,” says Lieutenant Lawrence Burke with the Cass County Sheriff’s Office.

Once an alert is made from inside a school, every teacher and administrator in the school can see it and add updates, too.

“As this aggressor moves through the building, [teachers] can add that information to the app, you know ‘I’ve just seen the person described, now he’s at room whatever, and now he or she is doing this,’ and they can keep everybody informed as the situation progresses.”

As information from inside the school is provided by staff, law enforcement can better pinpoint where to access the buildings based on where the emergency is taking place.

Law enforcement will also have maps and 3D layouts of each school accessible inside the app.

When an alert is made, law enforcement can also directly reply to the call on their app, keeping everyone informed.

“Upon the responders receiving that alert, they can then respond back giving the school peace of mind that rescue or responders are in route,” Burke adds.

Ryan Knippelmeyer is the superintendent of Elmwood-Murdock schools in Cass County. He says this technology will be a game-changer.

“Before, just using the phones to call 911, we don’t have any idea of when is someone going to be here or how long are we going to need to wait for an ambulance to show up,” he says. “We’ll be able to have that communication on the way, so we can do what we need to do on our side as well.”

“Elmwood-Murdock, we’re on the eastern side of Cass County so we’re about 35 minutes away from Plattsmouth, so any emergency situation, we’re hoping that this In Force 911 app will hopefully increase the response times that we’ll see as a school district,” Knippelmeyer adds.

Lt. Burke tells 6 News this direct communication will save minutes of time, which could potentially save lives.

“Previous to this, the information generally had to get from wherever it was occurring in the school, back to the administrative part of the school, so the call could go out,” he says. “The missing links was getting the information out in a timely manner so that the responders were aware of it and could respond.”

“There’s also a piece to this where we’ll be able to communicate with our staff in a more efficient manner you know, not necessarily over the intercom, but all of our staff would have this app and we would be able to communicate in a way that may be a little more confidential as something is taking place,” Knippelmeyer says.

The system works in reverse, too.

“If we had knowledge of a threat coming towards the school, we can then do a reverse alert, which would tell the school that Cass County Sheriff’s Office that there is a pending threat and they need to consider safety protocols,” Burke says.

“When Cass County came forward with this possibility, I think it makes a lot of sense for us as a school district and will be beneficial to us going forward,” Knippelmeyer says.

“As a parent, that is something that would give me a little peace of mind, knowing that if my kids were involved in something, that the communication with law enforcement and or emergency personnel - that it’s going to happen very quickly.”

The app’s creator, Brandon Flanagan, says the technology is incredibly beneficial to local communities.

IN FORCE911 is a revolutionary school safety software because of its mission-specific police interface. The app revolutionizes the way police respond to an active school threat because they’re provided with real-time actionable intelligence directly from the source. IN FORCE911 establishes a more effective and faster response time because we know in these situations, time equals lives!

Lt. Burke says they hope to have school staff trained and to implement the technology in full force by the beginning of the next school year.

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