Yakima Valley schools spend grant money on emergency response systems

SUNNYSIDE, Wash. -- KIMA is learning more about what schools across the Yakima Valley are doing with grant money to improve safety. The state Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction awarded the money to install emergency response systems. Hundreds of thousands went to districts in Yakima County.

Safety is always a top priority when it comes to your kids. The Sunnyside School District is following a model established in Grandview. It's buying safety badges for every high school and middle school employee. A tug of the badge initiates a lockdown. It also sounds an alarm with police.

"Any way to better or improve safety measures, I support," said Sunnyside parent Heidi Hellner-Gomez.

The goal is to have faster response times for law enforcement and first responders.

"Even a medical emergency or a serious situation, if you know you have access right there, right then, it's so comforting," said Sierra Vista Middle School Principal Doug Rogers.

There will also be improvements for every campus in the Yakima School District. Front doors will lock with the push of a button. Alert buttons that notify 911 will be installed in the administrative offices.

The Union Gap, West Valley and Toppenish School Districts will all install new software for their schools that will let police look at video feeds from school cameras. It will also map the location of police and firefighters. Staff can even be notified about problems like water leaks.

"The more options and tools they have at their disposal, the safer our kids and our staff will be," said Heidi.

OSPI wants all emergency response systems to be in place by the upcoming school year.