COLUMBIA, Ill. (KMOV.com) – On Dec. 14, 2012, it took 126 seconds between the time someone called 911 to report the mass shooting at Sandy Hook before the first police officer was dispatched to the Newtown, Connecticut, school. To veteran police officer Nate McVicker, that’s way too long.
“A shorter police response time can save lives,” McVicker said. That’s the main reason the Columbia, Illinois resident helped create Hero 911: a free active shooter alert application for smartphones only available to police officers.
It works whenever nearby school officials and teachers use a SchoolGuard app on their smartphones. In the event of an active shooter in a school, a teacher will hit the SchoolGuard app. That will then trigger the Hero 911 app. Within seconds, any law enforcement officer who has the app on his or her smartphone is alerted to the situation. The smartphone screen will then show a mapped location, a time from the initial alert and information from all the other officers who have acknowledged the situation.
“We have got to do something to help out to minimize the impact,” McVicker said.
Hero 911 went live in the spring. That’s when teachers in the Columbia School District had the option to download the SchoolGuard app.
According to Dr. Beth Horner, the district is serving as a pilot program for the app. It’ll be free for the first three years. While the Assistant Superintendent could not comment on how much the app will cost after the first three years, she said it will be valuable to the southern Illinois district.
“What saves lives with an active killer is the response time,” Horner said. This app deploys the alert to lots of police officers in the area and if they can get their quicker, they are going to save lives.”