AZTEC – Two San Juan County high schools will be the first in New Mexico to deploy a new system designed to rapidly report incidents that require immediate 911 assistance using a smartphone app.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas joined local government and education officials, and first responders last month to announce the Rave Panic Button system will be installed at the Aztec and Bloomfield high school campuses.
When an emergency situation arises, the user – typically a staff member, administrator or resource officer – pushes the button that represents the nature of the emergency. The available options are fire, medical, police and active shooter.
When someone presses the active shooter button, they will be connected to 911 immediately, and an emergency alert will be sent to all users.
When someone activates the medical button, key administrators and staff members with medical training will be notified.
“The threats are evolving, and we should have the best communication tools, the best training and the best technology implemented,” Balderas said.
The San Juan County Communications Authority is implementing and paying for the system, and it is being offered to schools for free, according to director David Ripley.
Balderas introduced three Aztec High School students he said he has gotten to know since the Dec. 7, 2017, shooting in which 17-year-old students Casey Marquez and Francisco “Paco” Fernandez were killed.
Adam Jones, Sara Gifford and Maggie Dimas each spoke about their effort to have students and parents involved in discussions of school safety. They supported the new app.
“We thought it was very important to do what we can and make sure people are hearing our voices,” Jones said.
Aztec schools Superintendent Kirk Carpenter thanked Balderas and his office for keeping his promise to keep students safe.
“The legacy of Casey and Paco is in our hands,” Carpenter said. “It’s up to all of us to make change.”
San Juan County Sheriff Shane Ferrari and Aztec Police Chief Mike Heal said they were excited to have the app, adding it would save time by allowing them to immediately respond to incidents.
Staff members will be trained before the app is deployed, Carpenter said.
The county communications authority hopes to get the Farmington Municipal School District on board with the system and expand it to more schools, Ripley said.