Bridgeport schools targeting safety

BRIDGEPORT – With an alarming increase in tragic incidents at high schools across the nation, the Bridgeport Exempted Village School District is once again being proactive.

The district introduced its latest tool to combat school shootings last week when it unveiled its “NaviGate System” to first responders.

“This is just another tool in our arsenal against active shooter situations,” Superintendent Ted Downing told those gathered in the administration building on the Bridgeport schools campus. “It has taken us some time to get this system up and running, but we think it will be worth the time in the long run.

“We are always being proactive instead of reactive.”

The NaviGate System, which went online Wednesday, gives first responders who are entering the school building information about where everyone is and what’s going on inside the school. It will share that information with law enforcement responding to the scene with a live feed.

“There are various ways the system can be accessed,” Downing added. “It can be brought up on a computer or cell phone.”

Frank Ferrell, system administrator, explained to those on hand how to log onto the system, and also explained the different ways to utilize it.

The system will show the first responders a detailed floor plan map of the school. Each room and hallway can be accessed via digital camera, and important safety features as where the gas shutoff, electric shutoff, water shutoff, fire extinguishers and fire hose are located. It also shows where exits, key boxes for first responders in case of a fire, defibrilators, first aid kits, eye wash stations and hazardous materials are.

According to Ferrell, there are 62 cameras inside and outside on the school campus.

Board of Education member Jerry Moore congratulated Ferrell for his efforts.

“I would like to thank Frank for all of his hard work,” he said. “He logged a lot of hours working on this program.”

On hand for the presentation were Bridgeport Police Chief Andy Klotz; Board of Education members Moore and Roger Stewart; Bridgeport Fire Department personnel, including Fire Chief Mark Subasic; Brookside Fire Department personnel, including assistant fire chief Allan Ketzell; Belmont County Interim 9-1-1 Director Brian Minder; Wolfhurst Volunteer Fire Department Chief Matt Otto; a pair of Belmont County deputies; and high school principal Rob Zitzelsberger.

“This couldn’t have been accomplished without the help of everyone here,” Downing noted. “I just pray to God that we never have to use it.”

Another meeting is planned for Dec. 18 at 9 a.m.

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