LCSO: New initiative will boost response times
In the event of a major incident such as a mass shooting, seconds can mean the difference between life and death.
On Thursday, the Lee County Sheriff’s Office introduced a program aimed at improving collaboration among public safety agencies in Lee County and ensuring a rapid response during incidents at schools and other critical infrastructure within the county.
Lee County Sheriff Carmine Marceno, with representatives of the Lee County School District and Lee Health, introduced the Sheriff’s Mapping Initiative at LCSO headquarters in South Fort Myers, which provides real-time, high-resolution maps for emergency scenes to deputies and other first responders.
“This technology dramatically improves response during critical incidents at major facilities in Lee County, including Lee County schools and hospitals,” Marceno said. “The safety and security of students and residents will always be my No. 1 priority. I’m excited by the technology and the life-saving potential it has with it.”
There are 93 schools and buildings in the Lee County School District and five major facilities within Lee Health. The initiative was described by officials as a proactive way to keep important buildings and personnel safe if a major incident occurs.
The maps include floor plans and grid overlays of the buildings involved and are provided in real time to responding deputies and share with other first responders. The maps provide key features of the building, including numbers, hallways, stairwells, parking areas, security cameras.
“The vital information will assist in identifying those who endanger our students and innocent civilians, as well as coordinating our response,” Marceno said. “This provides us one more tool to ensure their safety.”
The maps are color coded and easy to understand, making the floor plans more available and accurate for first responders. They also can be used for large-scale events, safety drills and other planning.
Scott Kashman, chief officer of hospital operations for Lee Health, said he was appreciative of the partnership with the LCSO and school system to help make Lee County a safer community.
“Any time we’re up against any issue, we can make sure we can keep our staff, patients and their families safe. It’s incredible they are able to map all the floors they are able to do,” Kashman said. “The have the same insight and ability to see inside the facility as we do.”
All hospitals except Cape Coral Hospital have been mapped, Kashman said.
Ken Savage, chief operations officer for Lee County Public Schools, said initiative will “instantly provide first responders where they are needed in seconds where seconds are vital” especially when one of the school resource officers at 45 of the district schools and centers are on a large campus an can’t respond fast enough.
“The Sheriff’s Office approached us with this initiative and we were very excited about this opportunity, which again highlights the great collaboration we have with the Sheriff’s Office,” Savage said, adding that nearly all the mapping has been completed for all school facilities. “It helps expediate the ability to hive direction.”
It will cost the school district $220,000 annually for maintenance and updating in the event of new schools or renovation are current ones. There was no cost for the hospital system. The LCSO did not provide that information.