July 19, 2024
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Bergen County High School Tests Wearable Panic Button

Paramus–This fall, a pilot program at Bergen County Technical High School in Paramus has teachers wearing small badges manufactured by Motorola Solutions, which can immediately alert authorities to trouble. The devices are quicker in reaction time than calling 911, according to police. And, because a GPS system is built into each badge, police are aware of the exact location of the person who presses the button, thus enabling a quicker reaction time.

According to press materials, the SafetyBadge is a communications lifeline between each other, to emergency personnel and law enforcement in the event of a school disturbance or incident.

“It’s not just for the guns that we worry about coming in,” Bergen County Executive Kathy Donovan told WABC News. “It’s for any emergency of any kind; the teachers are now in control of the situation, which is terrific.”

The badges operate in multiple ways: First, as a radio or walkie-talkie, and second, the badges have a button that, if held down for five seconds, calls area police with the caller’s exact location, so police can proceed straight to the emergency. When pressed twice, the button contacts school administrators and school security.

The SafetyBadge enables a one-to-one interface, as well as two-way, teacher-to-teacher communications allowing direct contact from classroom to classroom for school violence intervention. Teacher-to-faculty communications are also enabled for emergency alerts across campus to principals and school,

The cost to outfit an entire school is estimated at $50,000, most of which was covered in Paramus by a Homeland Security grant. The devices cost approximately $300 apiece. It weighs less than two ounces and is a little over an inch wide.

Every teacher and administrator is advised to wear the badge.

Another company, Ekahau, reportedly is also marketing a badge that includes a panic switch and LED readout; a spokeswoman for the company told Northjersey.com that it could also be integrated with electronic systems to have doors lock upon a teacher’s signal. More than 25 schools in about eight districts are using its badge, which is also being piloted in a large district in California, she said.

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