By Bill Hudson

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It was shortly after the horrors of Sandy Hook — where 20 elementary students and six staff members were killed — that Hedge Tactical Solutions was born.

Now, Kevin Grundstrom’s Hudson, Wisconsin company has developed a way to enable schools, churches and businesses to respond quicker to emergencies. Situations such as Sandy Hook, where an armed intruder intends mass harm.

“What we quickly realize in these types of scenarios is that information is key. It has to be both timely and accurate,” Grundstrom said.

Area educators got to see how timely and accurate information can spread thanks to HTS’s newly released cellphone app, called the HTS Active Alert System.

When a threat is reported, staff, students and police get an immediate alert notification on their cellphone. Then, the building schematic drawing shows exactly where in the given facility the threat was spotted. That allows people to discern their level of threat and if their distance from the intruder would allow for a safe exit.

(credit: CBS)

In addition, the building’s security cameras are then routed through the app to be viewed on the cellphones of first responders. That visual verification helps police to pinpoint and isolate the active threat.

“The police now have this ability to have the app in real time, so when they get that red alert, they know immediately where it is and if it’s a red alert they get there immediately,” Grundstrom said.

Hudson-area schools are already using Active Alert, as are many other school districts, businesses and places of worship nationwide.

River Falls Schools Superintendent Jamie Benson says it is another important tool, along with security cameras and hardened entrances.

“We still have to administratively discuss to what extent we’re going to roll that out with our students, but certainly with our staff,” Benson said.

The app can be used by students where age appropriate, likely in middle and high schools. It is a simple, affordable way to help secure students and staff, while at the same time giving responders the upper hand.

“How do we get them real information, how do we get them accurate information they can respond to?” Grundstrom said.

Quite simply, on a platform nearly everyone carries.