PRC School District first in state to install crisis alert system

It allows every school employee to get help with the touch of a button on a device they wear around their neck.
Published: Mar. 2, 2023 at 5:27 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CARRIERE, Miss. (WLOX) - As threats to schools throughout the nation become more prevalent, the effort to add another layer of protection increases.

Pearl River County School District was the first in the state to add an innovative alert system last spring.

It allows every school employee to get help with the touch of a button on a device they wear around their neck.

“If you press it three times, it will alert the office staff that you need help immediately,” said district Director of Technology Tara White.

The Centegix Crisis Alert System through Synergetics is much different than other security programs.

“Fortunately, with this system, we don’t have to have cellular service,” White said. “It works inside, it works outside, anywhere that you are in the school district, it will pick up an alert if someone needs help.”

Multiple clicks initiate a lockdown for all schools, and all electronic devices spread the message.

It also initiates a call to law enforcement and a shelter-in-place protocol using special door locks in every room.

“Our first priority is safety of our students and staff,” said superintendent John Shows. “So, it becomes a system where you feel like, ‘As a teacher, as a staff member, I’m safe. I’m able to get help when it’s needed.’ "

The system was installed in the spring of last year and was tested in the fall after a prank phone call on a day when no students were in school. Every school was alerted and went on lockdown within seconds.

“It was a very real situation,” White said. “Our staff was very scared because it seemed real. It was the first time our system had been put to the test, and it allowed us to be able to go back and evaluate how great this system is for us.”

Dana Riles with Synergetics said the timing is everything.

“Every second counts,” she said. “And we’ve seen that in Uvalde, we’ve seen this in a lot of other places where school violence has occurred, that it is all about being able to - first of all - locate where the incident is occurring and also have first responders be able to get that information as quickly as possible.”

It’s a good feeling for every one of the 500 employees in the district.

“Oh, I definitely feel safe,” White said. “I’ve heard so many people around our campus say that they feel safer just by being able to wear this and know that help coming immediately.”

The system is paid for by a federal COPS grant.

It is also used for other emergencies like bad-weather alerts.

Want more WLOX news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.