Virtual Alabama and Alert Training Keeping Students Safe in the Wiregrass

Ashford High School's Principal Bubba Odom has been in education for thirty years. In that time, he's seen a lot of changes.

"Used to During days like this our doors would be wide open," says Odom.

But these days, they stay locked. Like most schools across the state.

It's just one of the safety precautions enforced after deadly school shootings across the country.

"After columbine everyone realized you can't sit out and wait. If you've got children and their dying you got to go in there immediately and handle the threat," says tony Turner of The Houston County Sheriff's Office.

Now officers across the state are prepared to do that through alert training.

"A lot of the tactics are similar to what's been used in the past."

The big change is it's all standardized, so if multiple agencies respond to an emergency they have a plan ready to put in place.

"Otherwise you have officers showing up standing at the front door of the school. What formation they're going to use. How they're going to clear the rooms. How they'll move down the hallway."

Now once about five officers arrive, they move in one tool that will help is Virtual Alabama, an information and mapping system.

"Had all these programs in place beforehand. We actually had blueprints of each school in each deputies vehicles. what Virtual Alabama does is take those blueprints that we already had turns them to three-dimensional images that we can see,"says Houston County Sheriff Andy Hughes.

Its not just 3-D images. Some schools even have cameras that the program can tap into, showing what's happening in real time.

Alabama is the first state to have a system like this and it's being used as a template for other states.

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