On Tuesday, Oct. 15, while students were on fall break, the Walker County school district tested a new security system with enhanced technology. It’s the first district in the state to use the setup.

“The drill was to eliminate as much panic as possible (in emergency situations),” Schools Superintendent Damon Raines said.

As part of the drill, Saddle Ridge School went on lockdown. Emergency Management, the Sheriff’s Office and the 911 center participated in the drill.

Under the new security system, every public school in the Walker school district has been mapped and will use push-button intercom notifications and closed-circuit cameras with the county’s E-911 center.

The safety drill involved teachers, emergency personal and law enforcement enacting a variety of dangerous scenarios designed to test the new technology, which is supposed to cut down on delays in response times during emergency situations.

“We’re trying to overcome time in an incident,” Walker County Fire Chief Blake Hodge said. “This is saving seconds, and seconds save lives.”

Jordan Ramey, a sixth-grade English language arts teacher at Saddle Ridge, participated in the drill.

“It was very thorough,” Ramey said. “It went very smoothly. I like the fact that as a teacher I can log in and pull up a live camera feed on my laptop in my classroom. You can see where intruders are in the building.”

Marisa Merciers, a sixth-grade special education inclusion teacher at the school, is part of the onsite safety committee. She got to see the live camera feeds and hear the 911 dispatcher communicating with the school.

“It was a really good learning experience,” Merciers said.

Mary Catherine O’Bryant is a reporter for the Walker County Messenger in LaFayette, Ga., and the Catoosa County News in Ringgold, Ga.

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