CLEVELAND -- Security officials for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District on Thursday unveiled a program they say will help safety personnel more efficiently respond to any emergency inside a local school building.
The program is called SOS, short for Securing Our Students.
It takes the district's paper blueprints from every school building and translates them into a digital file that can be accessed from inside any emergency vehicle in the city.
Although it is being rolled out so soon after the tragic shooting at a school in Newtown, Connecticut, it is actually something that has been two years in the making.
"We have visited every school, we have gone into every school, we have made sure that we know every nook and cranny of that school and these drawings are up to date," said Roy Meadows, CEO and founder of Foremost Safety Solutions, which created the program.
"If there is ever a need for police action or if an intruder is in our building, it will allow law enforcement to prepare for entry while still en route to our buildings, allowing them to go into action immediately," said Lester Fultz, Security Chief for the Cleveland Municipal School District.
Fultz said the district has already dramatically decreased the number of serious incidents inside schools, from fights to a gun in a building, by 42 percent in recent years after implementing district-wide security measures.
"Cleveland Metropolitan School District operates closed campuses. Every building has a metal detector, every high school has an x-ray machine, we have an armed mobile force, we have an unarmed security guard force that is assigned to every building, over 3,500 closed circuit TV cameras," said Fultz.
The SOS program is expected not only to help save response time in the event of an intruder, district officials say it is useful in safety personnel responding to any fire or medical emergency, too.
"We can get our emergency response vehicles closest to the victim instead of having them pull up to the main doors," said Northfield Police Chief Mark Wentz.
Wentz has already been using the program in his communty.
"We can pull them up to the closest door because seconds and minutes are obviously vital in any situation," said Wentz.
The program, which was partially paid for by money from the Department of Homeland Security, is expected to be installed in Cleveland emergency vehicles within the next couple of weeks.