Chicago area school installs safety alarm to alert students, teachers to active intruder situations

DUPAGE COUNTY, Ill. (WLS) -- It looks like a fire alarm but, in fact, this BluePoint system can alert students and staff of an even greater threat -- an active shooter at the school.

"When it goes off, we get a strobe effect, along with an alarm, informing students over the PA saying we have an active intruder situation and for them to take run, hide, fight protocols forward," said Matt Rich, Winfield District 34 superintendent.

Winfield is one of a number of districts in the state with the system, which can alert the entire school, as well as police, in the case of a threat. It also tells them where it is coming from so those in other parts of the school can run in the other direction.

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It's one part of the district's overall security plan, which includes active shooter drills for students and teachers.

DuPage County's regional superintendent oversees nearly 200,000 students. She would like to see more state funding so every district has access to the best safety preparation.

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Peter Langman has written three books about how to prevent school shootings, and he's sharing his knowledge with educators and law enforcement in DuPage County.

"This has to stop. We have to do more. We have to do better at what we're doing," said Darlene Ruscitti, DuPage Co. regional superintendent.

Early in every school year, students go through active shooter drills to prepare in the event of a tragedy, like what happened in Uvalde, Texas, Tuesday.

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School safety experts said it is important preparation.

"In an emergency, you perform how you practice. If you never had practice, you're not gonna perform well," said DuPage Co. school safety specialist, John Heiderscheidt.

Those drills, however, can no longer include some of the more graphic exercises involving officers and weapons. State Senator Karina Villa sponsored the bill.

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"Children were having trauma, fearful about going to school and going through these drills," said Villa, 25th District.

The BluePoint Alert Solutions system is expensive, running about $45,000. But the superintendent said you can't put a price on the safety of students.
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