New app allows schools to lock down in just 3 seconds

RAINIER, Wash. -- Seconds matter when there is a threat at a school, and now Rainier Middle School is the first in the nation with an app that gives its teachers the ability to lockdown their school in just 3 seconds.

Typically, if a teacher or staffer at a school sees a threat -- let's say, maybe a person with a gun, it takes 30-to-90 seconds to make the call to the office, verify what's happening, call 911 and send the school into a lockdown.

A lot of damage can be in that time. Well, people in Rainier thought there had to be a faster way.

Now, inside a Rainier Middle School classroom, pushing a simple button on a smart phone app immediately sends the school into lockdown.

Doors lock and police are notified instantly, because they are tied into the app as well.

SWAT arrives and the cloud-based system gives them direct individual communication with multiple teachers inside multiple classrooms -- even a view of the security cameras inside the school.

The Rainier School District built the app themselves with the help of the Helix Group -- a Tumwater-based software company, to make an app that's very simple.

"We couldn't find a product that did what we felt it should do to protect kids," said Tim Garchow, Rainier School District Superintendent.

The app will also allow teachers and first responders to send messages to each other.

"The real-time technology that you have now and being able to communicate is fascinating," said Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza.

The state has set aside $10 million for school districts to improve their safety. That money could be used to fund the School Alert system. The cost is $3,000 or less depending on the district's size.