What is a ‘BluePoint’ system and how does it keep students safe during school shootings?

PITTSBURGH — We’re all familiar with fire alarms, but maybe not as familiar with the alarm that went off inside Central Catholic Wednesday morning. It’s part of what’s called a “BluePoint” system, and that’s what was triggered on Wednesday.

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“When we heard the BluePoint active shooter drill, we sprung right into action,” said Central Catholic Director of Communications and Marketing Brian Cook.

Around 10 a.m., nearly 650 Central Catholic students and their teachers put practice into play.

“Today, CMU Police were in the building at Central in under a minute,” Rich Mader said. He’s a security consultant from Synaptic Security and advises Central Catholic. “I was across the street at Rodef Shalom establishing a memorandum of understanding to use it as an evacuation point for Central when the BluePoint alert came in.”

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“We saw a lot of police,” said Freshman Andrew Perez. “They told us to hurry up into the STEM building because we were transitioning. It was a pretty smooth process. We got in the building, and it was fine after that really.”

The school immediately went into lockdown mode. Outside, police were there taking over Fifth Avenue, and then made their way into the building to ensure the original call that came in was in fact a hoax.

“Whenever you have students and the entire school locked down, it’s a bit stressful especially with everything going on in the world right now. However, it seems like it was a hoax.”

Back in 2019, Channel 11 got an inside look at West Mifflin’s BluePoint system. Central Catholic also has this equipment. Inside the building, you’ll find handles that look like fire alarms. If someone witnesses a threat, they can pull the handle and an automated school lockdown announcement goes over the loudspeaker.

“They were saying they didn’t see anybody on the cameras or see anyone pull the button,” said Perez. “They didn’t see anything.”

Central Catholic says no one pulled the alarm. Instead, Wednesday’s alert came from an external computer-generated swatting call.

It was the first time the system was used for a non-drill situation.

“It’s good to know that our students and faculty are ready just in case,” said Cook.

“Ten out of ten. Everything happened exactly as it should’ve happened,” Mader said.

The system also sends text messages to teachers and staff in the building. It also alerts law enforcement.

If you are interested in learning more about the system, you can call 224-629-6802.

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