SAD 35 to deploy new crisis alert system

By Mark Pechenik, news@seacoastonline.com  Nov 14, 2018 

 SOUTH BERWICK, Maine — A review of the new CrisisGo emergency alert system highlighted the SAD 35 board of directors meeting Wednesday.

The program, which will be formally activated Nov. 26, will enable district personnel to “communicate much more quickly and in real time” in the event of an emergency, according to SAD 35 Chief Operations Officer John Caverly.

“Real time information will be available to teachers and others so they can make decisions in the moment to keep our kids safe,” said Jeff Upton, the South Berwick Police Department’s school resource officer. “Emergency information will be received by police officers in their cruisers and they will be ready, on their way, to respond.”

Highlights of the software include a display, accessible by smartphone or tablet computers, which features a flashlight and siren that can be used in crisis situations. Another feature is a messaging center where teachers, for instance, can choose which district personnel they wish to communicate with during emergencies.

As an example of the program’s capabilities, Upton presented a screenshot of an emergency checklist used for allergic reactions. The list begins by asking first responders to look for a victim’s medical alert tag followed by contacting the school nurse, keeping the victim calm and alert, asking a school staffer to obtain an EpiPen, and how to identify signs of shock and distress.

A panic button at the bottom of the display screen “directly alerts district administrators with the message that ‘this person is in distress,’” Upton said. Rescuers on scene can then text with emergency professionals while a built-in GPS device identifies where the crisis is taking place.

“This program will increase our ability to communicate, especially with fire, police or ambulance,” said Marshwood Middle School Principal Anthony Bourbon, who has tested the software among his staff.

In other business

The district started discussions with South Berwick and Eliot on the possibility of accessing school sites for voting during the 2020 presidential election. The conversation began after voters experienced long waits at the South Berwick polling station in Town Hall during the Nov. 6 midterm election.

“It is something to think about on how we can support the election,” said SAD 35 Superintendent Mary C. Nash.

Nash also reported Central School Principal Nina D’Aran and her staff are “working up a traffic plan” that may help ease motor vehicle congestion in South Berwick’s downtown business district. School traffic has been identified as a source of such congestion.

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