By Lee Reinsch
DE PERE – A new mapping system could save police and first responders time when getting students and faculty in De Pere’s two public school districts to safety in the event of an emergency.
“I hope we never have to use it but if we do, this would shave seconds and minutes off the response time,” De Pere Police Chief Derek Beiderwieden told the De Pere school board at its Feb. 17 meeting. “In an emergency, a lot can happen in a few short minutes.”
The Collaborative Response Graphic system helps rescue personnel communicate a location and navigate the way in high-stress situations when carrying out a rescue in an emergency.
“Imagine you are in a place where the streets have no names,” he said. “How do you know how to get from point A to point B when there are no directions and no street names?”
The system uses floor plans, building layouts, and facilities and grounds overviews to steer emergency personnel the right way in order to get to where they need to be.
“There is nothing more frustrating for an officer than to go into a place to try to help someone and not know where you are going or where the emergency is in relation to where you are,” Beiderwieden said. “You can hear it, and you know it’s there, but how do you get there?”
He presented an overview of the program, which was created by a company called Critical Response Group from New Jersey.
He said it took five months to map all the schools in the two De Pere districts.
The police chief is so impressed with the gridded graphic reference system he said his department is paying front-end costs to have it established in schools in both school districts.
The money comes from assets forfeited during drug busts, he said.
Front-end costs, mapping the schools, were about $11,000 for both school districts combined.
Costs can vary per district due to the number of buildings, he said.
A yearly subscription cost of about $4,680 keeps the maps for both districts live.
As long as a district’s subscription is up to date, any changes to a school, such as remodeling, additions built, changes in room numbers, etc., can be added and updated as part of the annual maintenance fee.
With six buildings, the cost on the east side to maintain the service is $2,552, while West De Pere, with five buildings, pays slightly less, said Dawn Foeller, finance director.
Board member Bob Mathews asked if police would carry electronic devices with them during such rescues.
Beiderwieden said they would rely on paper printouts of the gridded reference graphics since operating a phone while responding could be difficult.
“It’s so simple,” Beiderwieden said. “And it works phenomenally.”
The move to approve the mapping system was approved administratively, as the initial cost was below $10,000.
“It just seems like such a no-brainer,” said Dan Van Straten, board member.