By Jill Fox
Named in honor of Marjory Stoneman Douglas shooting victim Alyssa Alhadeff, a proposed bill may help save other’s lives across the country if Congress passes it.
The Bipartisan School Violence Prevention Bill, introduced by U.S. Representatives Roger Williams (TX) and Ted Deutch (FL), creates federal grant programs for public schools to “identify and mitigate security vulnerabilities.”
Through a provision in this bill, Alyssa’s Law would be recognized across the United States.
On February 14, 2018, at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, time was of the essence. Seventeen innocent lives were lost that day, in what would become the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history, due in large part to insufficient emergency procedures and thus, slowed emergency response time.
First introduced five years ago, the law was enacted in New Jersey last February and renamed in honor of 14-year-old Alyssa, a former resident of the state, who was shot and killed on that day.
Alyssa’s Law will require all public elementary and secondary schools to install either silent panic alarms or alternative emergency mechanisms for crises situations.
Alyssa’s mother Lori Alhadeff, who has championed the law with her husband, Ilan, said, “Time equals life, and if there are injured individuals, then that quick communication will get EMS on the scene to triage and stabilize the victims.”
Congressman Deutch said expanding Alyssa’s Law across the country will save lives as more schools will utilize alarm systems directly alerting law enforcement.
The silent alarms are not just for an active shooter situation. Alhadeff explained they could be for any life-saving circumstance and would provide a direct line of communication for law enforcement to be able to get help as quickly as possible. A teacher could wear the alarm around their neck and push a button, or an app could do it on a phone. Schools could also have a separate pull station for an active shooter or any other type of emergency.
Additionally, it would be up to each school district to determine how they’re going to implement their panic buttons. Alhadeff added there were already a lot of companies that have this type of technology available.
“It’s out there, and it’s up to the school district to vet the needs of each company and see how it’s going to meet the needs of their schools.”
New Jersey schools begin in September, and they’re required to have the panic buttons installed before classes start.
“They are the pioneers of this, so we can all learn from the process of how they implement these in their schools, it would be incredible and amazing if it were passed at a federal level.”
- Jill Fox is an Emmy Award-winning writer and producer. She is currently a Senior Account Director at Lon Haber & Co., a leading full-service public relations firm. Fox worked at NBC Miami for eight years after graduating from the University of Miami. She lives in Parkland with her husband, Brian and two children.
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