Dan Stebbins shares the details of a story that no one should have to tell. On Dec. 14, 2012, a lone shooter opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Stebbins, who was the Connecticut State Police Colonel and on-scene commanding officer that day, recounts how the school’s communication system proved to be a weak link. Though the school’s safety plan was executed, it wasn’t enough to prevent or minimize the loss. The school secretary called 911 but had to hang up before relaying important details because her landline phone didn’t reach far enough for her to hide from the shooter.
Instead of issuing safety instructions, the PA system blared gunshots echoing off school walls and hallways, making it difficult for first responders to determine where shots were coming from and how many shooters there were. Teachers and other staff didn’t know what was happening and had no way to communicate with anyone.
Stebbins’ recount sheds light on the importance of communication in an emergency situation and the need for FirstNet — the only nationwide, high-speed, broadband network designed specifically for public safety, including school resource officers and campus police.