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Delaware County, Pa. To Offer ‘Panic Buttons’ To Every School

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David Madden David Madden
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By David Madden, Syma Chowdhry

MORTON, Pa. (CBS) — Delaware County, Pa. has unveiled plans to put so-called “panic buttons” in every school in the county, to help ensure against attacks from intruders.

Talk of putting in the heightened security system began two days after the Sandy Hook massacre in Connecticut.

“That was certainly not the first school shooting that shattered our nation, but it certainly the one that caused us to reexamine our security measures,” says Delaware County Council chairman Tom McGarrigle.

McGarrigle says selected staffers will be instructed in the use of the button, which will be hooked up via a dedicated phone line directly to a 911 operator.

“The person doesn’t have to speak, doesn’t have to find a phone or cell phone,” McGarrigle explains.  “They don’t have to figure out what to say or report the location.  They simply push the red button.”

And when the button is pushed, police are immediately dispatched, which officials say could save valuable time.

There is also a one-way intercom for the operator to listen to what’s going on in the classroom.

Schools — including private and religious schools — are not required to take the button, but no one is expected to decline it.   The county, thanks to a $188,000 state grant, is picking up the tab for both the equipment and the installation.

“This is the best thing they can do,” says parent Marianne Rhodes of Springfield.  “I am so glad they got the grant. I am so glad they are putting it to good use, immediately.”

“We need to do something to protect the children and the teachers and it’s about time,” says parent Lisa Bambach of Springfield.

Officials are hoping to have installations done by the start of school in the fall, or within the subsequent couple of months.

Montgomery County was the first to put in a direct link between schools and emergency dispatchers, following the Nickel Mines shootings in central Pennsylvania several years ago.

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