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Safety measures helped police respond quickly to Perry shooting | #schoolsaftey

Superintendent Clark Wicks said the school’s SEARS system was critical in getting a quick response from law enforcement.

PERRY, Iowa — New details have emerged surrounding the safety measures activated inside Perry High School when a 17-year-old student opened fire.

Perry Community School District Superintendent Clark Wicks shared in a press conference Friday that the school was equipped with SEARS, or the School Emergency Alert Response System. 

The radio technology allowed Associate Principal Brad Snowgren to push a button and contact emergency dispatch. 

“That got pressed right away and I think it was within seven minutes of getting the button pushed that we had law enforcement there,” Wicks said. 

Hundreds of law enforcement officials from all over the state descended on the school. Wicks credits the system with saving lives. 

“We had over about 150 law enforcement and ambulance, any kind of service that we, that we needed,” Wicks said. “It was critical.”

Wilks also discussed the active shooter training model, called ALICE, practiced by students and staff in the district. ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate.

Perry students and staff leaned on this training as they ran from the building to safety.

“I tried helping people alongside me, telling them to run, and they followed,” one student told Local 5.

The state of Iowa has made a significant investment in school safety since 2022, establishing the Governor’s School Safety Bureau. 

Asked if the bureau will be making any changes to their efforts following the shooting, Bureau Chief Don Schnitker told Local 5 they will be working with school districts across Iowa to improve active shooter training. 

“It’s important that schools know what to do in these situations, so if you’re asking for training, we’re going to provide that training,” Schnitker said. “That’s a mission that we’re going to continue to do to the next several years.”

The state has spent $100 million dollars of federal funding to improve school safety since 2022, establishing four main objectives: 

  1. Provide an emergency radio to every school in Iowa.
  2. Provide active shooter training to schools and places of worship.
  3. Provide active shooter training to Iowa law enforcement and first responders.
  4. Develop and monitor a threat reporting tool that is assessable via an app, website, and telephone.

Schnitker encourages parents and students across Iowa to contact their school districts and ask what their emergency plans and procedures look like. 

“Our hearts go out to the whole community of Perry,” he said. “We want our kids to have a safe environment to learn, and we need to learn from what happened here.”

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