#schoolsafety | Norwalk schools to pursue school-safety grant for non-lethal defense system

Superintendent George Fisk told the school board in December he has been researching what the Threat Extinguisher Non-Lethal Defense System offers since last school year. He said he heard a recommendation from another superintendent. Fisk added he sees the system as a way to improve school safety, noting there is no “magic wand” for such a multi-layered issue.

The Threat Extinguisher system has two units, for walls and desks. According to its promotional information, once a base or unit is activated, information about the location of the emergency is texted automatically to school staff members so they can begin safety protocols and move people if they feel it’s necessary. Calls go to local law enforcement officials at the same time.

Amy Bumpus, marketing and training director, pulled a cannister — a small, lightweight fire extinguisher-style canister — during her presentation to the school board Tuesday. She earlier had distributed a cell phone to board members. About two to three seconds after Bumpus pulled the cannister, the phone activated with a text.

Bumpus said the faster that officials can get the right people to the correct location, it can save lives. Fisk said the automatic notification can be created so it goes through the public-address system in the school, but regardless, the message also includes the exact location where the emergency is happening so teachers can make the best decision possible.

The canisters also can be used for defense. Bumpus said they release a “tactile-grade pepper spray” with a 25- to 30-foot range that doesn’t contaminate the air-control system in buildings and can help stop an attack.

“It’s easy to aim,” she added. 

Once the spray hits someone, “most people hit the ground,” Bumpus said. “Their eyes slam shut; they are incapacitated.”

Corey Ream, the district director of operations, said the canisters are easy to operate. He equated it to a wasp spray. Ream also told the board that law enforcement officials have been supportive of the system, especially the communication component.

The Threat Extinguisher system has been installed in schools and churches in Florida, Ohio, Texas, Pennsylvania, Indiana, West Virginia and Oklahoma, Bumpus said. 

Board member John Lendrum asked if there had been any failed scenarios. She said there hadn’t been any, but she shared an instance when a teacher activated the system in her classroom because a student was having a medical emergency since she thought it was the fastest way to get assistance, which indeed was provided.

Bumpus, who said the system is a way to assist, not replace assistance from law enforcement, recommended the wall units be placed in such high-traffic areas as the cafeteria, library and hallways.

For more about the Threat Extinguisher Non-Lethal Defense System, go to https://www.threatextinguisher.com.

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