The safety and security of students, staff and community that enter our school buildings each day are always top priorities in school districts across our nation. Door entry security systems, school resource officers, digital camera systems and other strategies continue to be used to ensure a safe environment. Chardon Local Schools recently engaged in an innovative partnership with Motorola Corporation and SchoolSAFE to deploy a new radio technology uniquely designed with schools in mind to enhance communications among our schools and with first responders.
Motorola donated approximately 300 handheld MOTO Turbo radio units to the school district, as well as installing the SchoolSAFE bridging system in each school building in the district and in neighboring non-public schools in our area. The radios are deployed within the school setting to administrative, maintenance and support personnel, as well as in classrooms for use in routine communications, as well as to create a secure communications perimeter in each building in the event of a crisis.
In the event of a school emergency, we know that cellular communications - texting and phone call capability - is lost in a matter of minutes following the event and are unreliable at best. It is at this time that the communication needs of the district are at their peak and a stable reliable platform is needed to effectively manage the crisis response. The SchoolSAFE bridging system fills that need by allowing district administrators to activate a secure, dedicated, communications bridge among school buildings and departments (e,g, Transportation) to facilitate the flow of information. Another powerful feature of SchoolSAFE is the ability for emergency dispatchers to activate a secure bridge between the school radios and first responders en route to the scene saving valuable time in coordinating the crisis response.
Effective implementation of the MOTO Turbo radios and the SchoolSAFE platform was the result of a strong training program coordinated by Motorola. National crisis level response trainers engaged school personnel and area first responders in an in-depth program to ensure effective use of the radios including how to communicate clearly and efficiently during a crisis event, as well as an understanding of the interoperability capabilities of the bridging system. In addition, our school district has integrated radio scenarios into routine school safety drills that actively involve our first responders to permit ongoing practice using this technology.
The development of a reliable communications system with the interoperability features found in SchoolSAFE is an important step in preparing Chardon Schools to respond effectively in the event of a school crisis. We were fortunate to develop this partnership with Motorola, SchoolSAFE and our local provider, Communications Services, Inc. to develop this program and successfully implement the technology in our schools.