PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - By request from the local SWAT team, students in the EAST Lab Program at Paragould High School are working on a huge project. They are constructing digitized maps, floor-by-floor, of a local hospital to better assist officers in handling an emergency situation.
"My first thought is I get to help the SWAT team. I get to help potentially save lives and that's pretty cool," said Andrew Bartlett, who's part of the EAST Lab program at Paragould High School. He knows a thing or two about computers.
At the beginning of the school year, the students were approached by the Paragould SWAT team to take paper maps of Arkansas Methodist Medical Center and convert them digitally.
"They came to use needing improvements and updates. So we took it on," said Bartlett.
The maps can be pulled up on an I-Pad or laptop. Jason Elms with the Paragould Police Department says whether it's a hostage or terrorist situation, these maps will be vital tools.
"You can get to it really quick because all of our cars do have computers or I-pads or anything like that. To make that accessible to us, it will make things move a lot quicker and safer," said Elms.
But it is not just any map. "Were inserting danger rooms for potential dangers of chemicals or a weapon that someone could use," said Bartlett.
A group was assigned to each floor of the hospital, and each student had a focus. They even took a trip to AMMC to be able to grid out all the nitty-gritty details.
"Anything that was technical, we had to include it. We had to find the escape routes, fire routes. We asked the employees and head security about any kinds of problems they had," said Bartlett.
As for Elms, he says AMMC is just the beginning. "If something big is going to happen, it's going to happen in a bigger area. You know they are not going to hit your small little grocery store or gas station. The hospitals and schools right now are our main priority. Just in case something was to happen," said Elms.
Elms says the ultimate goal is for the department to have the layout of any place with a high volume of people. Even places like Walmart.@@