Colorado District Trains Principals on 2-Way Radios

Pueblo County School District 70 in Colorado has launched a training program for all staff that will enable them to use two-way radios with first responders, including police, fire, emergency medical, emergency management, and other special rescue teams. In the event of a school incident, a communications network can be activated that connects the high-end radios used by professional responders with the lower-end radios used more typically in the county's schools.

At the first day-long workshop school principals learned how to use two-way radio communications according to recommendations from the National Emergency Communications Plan (NECP) and the Incident Command System (ICS). Participants interacted with professional responders in a set of brief drills and tabletop exercises at Pueblo West High School. Topics included the development of procedures for using the radios, terminology, radio etiquette, and how to supply essential information to dispatchers quickly.

Jeff Howes, principal of North Mesa Elementary, said he sees definite advantages in being able to interoperate with local public safety agencies. "Communications is easier among stakeholders," he said. "Response time is quicker, mistakes can be quickly corrected or response plans quickly changed, and we can run everyday operations more smoothly."

Once the school year begins, the training program will be rolled out to additional school staff, according to Greg Keasling, the district's director of student service.

Colorado was the first state to make interoperable communications part of a statewide school response framework. All schools are required to inventory and test interoperable communications equipment at least once every term and achieve compliance with the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

SchoolSafe Communications, a division of QDS Communications, sells the bridging technology that connects the school radio system with the public safety radio system. According to the company, the system is installed in 48 locations across Colorado. QDS sells two-way radios.

Participants in the training also included the Douglas County Sheriff's Office; Boulder Valley School District; Safe Havens International, a non-profit organization that consults on school and campus safety; and School Safety Partners, a Colorado organization supported by SchoolSafe Communications that works with districts to find money for funding school safety projects.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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