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Bangor schools activate first-of-its-kind alert system in New England

"I just think it's really important that we prioritize safety at school. A lot of kids don't have it anywhere else," a senior at Bangor High School said.

BANGOR, Maine — Increasing violence in schools around the country is a topic that raises concerns for parents, educators, and even students.

In an effort to add additional safety measures so all families feel safe dropping their kids off at school, the Bangor School Department implemented a new emergency crisis alert system, Centegix's Education CrisisAlert system.

All full-time faculty, staff, and substitute teachers at the 11 Bangor schools are wearing emergency alert badges on their lanyards, which give them a way to get almost immediate help in any situation.

With just three pushes of a button, the badge can send out a notification to certain staff that they need assistance for a low-level emergency like a fight, medical issue, or mental health issue, for instance.

Eight clicks will initiate a lockdown and notify local law enforcement. During a lockdown, strobe lights would flash throughout the school, desktop computers would get an emergency notification, and there would be an intercom message.

The new system is bringing peace of mind to some students like Bangor High School senior Kaeleigh Bowen, who said she wants herself and her classmates to feel comfortable at school every day.

"I just think it's really important that we prioritize safety at school. A lot of kids don't have it anywhere else," Bowen said. "A lot of kids don't have it [a safe space] anywhere else."

The system was fully operational when classes resumed at the beginning of this year. So far, there have been four instances when a teacher has engaged their badge for a low-level situation, according to Bangor School Department's School Safety & Communications Director, Ray Phinney.

Bangor High School English teacher Jeff Sanders is the first teacher at the high school to use his badge, and he said he was surprised at how fast assistance came.

"It prevented me from having to dial the phone and having to relay what was going on. This could just say something was happening and we needed attention in the hallway," Sanders said. "To be able to feel confident that people know that we're worried or need help or something's going on does provide some confidence and makes us feel maybe a little safer."

The system cost $409,000 for five years, according to Superintendent James Tager. The "cost of peace of mind is worth every penny," Tager said.

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