Baraboo woman creates gunshot alarm system

Baraboo woman creates gunshot alarm system

In the wake of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, MMSD has dealt with threats and students bringing guns to school. Most recently, a 13-year-old was accused of bringing a BB gun to Toki Middle School.

It’s situations like this that have parents in our area thinking about school safety. Now, a Baraboo woman is hoping to make schools safer through technology.

Stacy Jax will forever remember Dec. 14, 2012, the day a gunman entered Sandy Hook Elementary School and within minutes, killed 20 children and six adults.

“My daughter was in kindergarten at the time and I am a previous teacher,” Jax said. “So putting myself exactly in that classroom was very disturbing.”

Several people in the building heard gunshots, but did not immediately recognize them.

“[I was] wondering why a teacher or parent or principal would put themselves out into the hallway to confirm what was going on, and then subsequently lose their life trying to deal with the chaos. [That] was really unfair and there should be a better way to notify people of these tragedies,” Jax said.

She came up with Trinity Gunshot Alarm System, a sensor inside a school that could listen for the sound of a gunshot and then set off an alarm similar to a fire alarm. Jax is working with software development company, Acumium, to develop the system. To ensure there aren’t false positives, Jax said Trinity is programed to pick up specific parameters of sound.

“And within that range is where the audio signature of a gunshot is, and we also look for the very specific pattern of a gunshot,” she said.

Baraboo woman creates gunshot alarm system

When detected, the system would sound an alarm and send an instant notification to schools and possibly law enforcement. Sgt. James Hodges with the Sauk County Sheriff’s Office said that notification could help save lives.

“To have the knowledge of gunshots in a building is huge. It’s like fire in a building, something’s got to happen,” Hodges said.

Last Friday, Jax and Hodges tested the system in the sheriff office’s indoor shoot house. It allowed them to fire live rounds inside a building, which allowed Jax to see how and if her system works.

The sensor picked up the gunshots almost instantaneously, meaning in a real active shooter situation everyone would have seconds longer to react. Those seconds, Hodges said, could make all the difference.

“It only takes seconds to fire a round, so if you think every time a gun goes off, that’s another victim, every second does count,” he said.

“It’s a school. It shouldn’t have to happen there, but with the technology advances, this is a good solution,” Jax said.

Jax envisions the alarm in any building where you’d find a fire alarm.

She and Acumium hope to have a final system by April, if they can find the funding. Realistically, the gunshot alarm system could be ready for installation by June.