Brooke Williams (WFXR) – An app is being implemented in schools across the Commonwealth, with the intent of saving student lives.

The In FORCE911 app is designed to be used in emergencies, such as active shooter situations, and allows two-way communication between school staff and law enforcement.

The app was first implemented in Bedford County in early 2018, and now, Grayson County schools expect to begin using the app within the next six weeks.

“These kids have become important to me is the understatement of the century,” says Grayson County school resource officer Joseph Poole.

Poole patrols the hallways on a weekly basis in his role as school resource officer, and he’s developed close bonds with many of the students.

“One of them here is my flesh and blood. The rest of them I feel as though they are. So any edge we can get over someone who wishes to do ill will towards them is worth millions to me,” says Poole.

That’s why Grayson County Schools and the Grayson County Sheriff’s Office have partnered to implement the app. It’s expected to streamline communications, reducing several minutes of response time required when a dispatch center routes a phone call to a local responding agency. Instead, through the use of the app, school staff can send an alert at the touch of a button and directly communicate with first responders.

“This gives us a little bit of an advantage to get it out to more people quicker,” says Grayson County High School Principal Temple Musser.

According to Grayson County Sheriff Richard Vaughan, the school system and sheriff’s office split the cost of the software. And Vaughan believes use of the app will save valuable time.

“Time is of the essence in these emergency situations. So even if we save two to three minutes, you know, we could save lives,” says Vaughan.

Once an alert is sent, law enforcement officers can also send a reverse alert, sending instructions to the school based on information they’ve gathered.

“We’ll be able to utilize the app to let the schools know of potentially dangerous situations in the community, if they need to go onto a lock down situation,” says Vaughan.

Brandon Flanagan, president and CEO of IN FORCE911 issued the following statement:

“IN FORCE911 is a real-time answer to a long-time problem of senseless acts of violence.  The software is the way of the future because as we’ve learned, reducing law enforcement response time will ultimately save lives as the software simultaneously streamlines communication from the point of contact, back to first responders.  Collectively, it’s our responsibility to prevent these targeted acts of violence from occurring within our public and private schools.  We’re proud to announce this partnership with Grayson County and appreciate their leadership and unwavering dedication to improving school safety!”