Bangor High School on Broadway.

A Bangor High School teacher launched a false lockdown alarm when they called for medical help for a student having a medical emergency Wednesday morning.  

Staff members in all Bangor schools wear a button on a lanyard that allows them to instantly call for different levels of help depending on the situation. The system, which is new to the department this year, is intended to be simpler, faster and more exact than relying on someone to call 911 or use a phone app to report an emergency.

Before the 8 a.m. arrival bell on Wednesday, a teacher pushed the button to call for help too many times, launching a school-wide lockdown rather than calling for an in-school team to assist the student, according to Ray Phinney, spokesperson for the Bangor School department. The lockdown lasted seven minutes.

While this was the first time a high-level emergency lockdown was launched, Phinney said the emergency system has been used previously several times to call for help from an in-school response team since the system went live in January.

Pressing the button three times will alert an in-school emergency team of a lower-level problem, such as a medical episode, mental health crisis or student conflict. Outside law enforcement will not automatically be called in these cases.

If a staff member presses the button continuously until it beeps, it will signal a larger crisis — such as an active shooter — and local law enforcement will automatically be notified. Lights in the school will flash, every screen in the school will show an emergency notification, and the school intercom system will play an alert message telling students to lock down.

School staff were able to call Bangor police once they realized the emergency didn’t need a police response, but emergency medical technicians arrived and brought the student to a local hospital.

Phinney didn’t know the status of the student around 11 a.m. Monday, but said the student was “awake and coherent when they left.”

High school staff will meet Wednesday afternoon to have additional training on the emergency alert system, Phinney said.

“Every time we do drills, we learn from each of those situations,” he said. “We’re using this as a training opportunity for us.”

Social workers and guidance counselors are also available for any students who want to talk through the morning’s events, Phinney said.

“There’s always that level of anxiety that rushes to the surface,” Phinney said. “Because of the world we live in, the emotions are real and raw, especially when students don’t think it’s a drill.”

Kathleen O'Brien is a reporter covering the Bangor area. Born and raised in Portland, she joined the Bangor Daily News in 2022 after working as a Bath-area reporter at The Times Record. She graduated from...