DeLand, FL / Wallingford, CT (August 27, 2020) - When Volusia County students return to school on August 31, they will come back to schools that comply with Alyssa’s Law. Alyssa’s Law requires each public school, including charter schools, to implement a panic alert system for use in an emergency such as a lockdown or active-shooter situation. When the alarm is triggered, law enforcement is alerted of the emergency via a message or signal. Such a system is also known as “Alyssa’s Alert” and must integrate with local public safety answering points or 9-1-1 centers allowing 911 calls to be made in seconds. But the real challenge is that the principal, security guards and staff who are responsible for responding cannot be competing with hundreds of other inbound 911 calls. They need to be able to instantly connect and share vital information with those who are coming to help.
Recognizing the need to close this major gap, safety-smart school districts like Volusia are enhancing passive panic alerting systems with a real-time emergency communications system such as Mutualink. Mutualink provides communication, coordination, and situational awareness in real time between multiple first responder agencies, school security and selected school personnel responding to the alert. This is interoperable communication: school personnel and first responders can communicate regardless of system - radio, cell phone or any other device. Interoperable response means school personnel and first responders can securely share data files such as floor plans of the school and, in some cases, secure video on demand that provides insight to what is happening and where, speeding response and increasing situational awareness. Text messages replace voice communications for situations where complete quiet is in order.
Mutualink’s ability to integrate a panic altering system, powered by Rave Mobile Safety, brings together a fully integrated solution that provides teachers and staff a direct link to the Volusia Sheriff’s Office and the ability to instantly connect vital information between school personnel and multiple first responder agencies where time is of the essence and lives are at stake.
“It started with a demonstration of the solution during which it became clear that with the panic alert application and Mutualink’s interoperable emergency response platform, officers would arrive on scene knowing exactly what they need to do in order to quickly resolve any incident,” said Michelle Newman, Chief of Safety and Security for Volusia County Schools. “But when the Mutualink team installed the solution in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I knew we had a game-changing partnership.”
The Volusia Sheriff’s Office had already installed Mutualink for interoperable communications, so the experience and commitment to Mutualink as a law enforcement tool set the tone for its dependability for the school safety use case. Mutualink provides interoperable communications for more than a dozen Florida counties and numerous charter schools. Several Florida colleges and universities also use the technology.
Jeff Kelly, Mutualink’s education specialist for K12 security, said, “Mutualink continually works to solve safety and security challenges for the K12 community. We do not believe in installing technology and walking away, so we form long-term partnerships with the school districts we serve. We stand by them.”
Volusia County Schools and the Volusia Sheriff’s Office share the same commitment as Mutualink and the legislators who passed Alyssa’s Law to establishing trustworthy panic alarm capability in conjunction with an interoperable emergency response platform that addresses a critical gap in school safety - altering and enabling direct emergency communications and information sharing between schools and first responders to improve teacher, student and officer safety.