Motorola Gives Chardon Free Radio Equipment
March 13, 2014

"This is time-saving ... when time can be critical in saving a child's life or getting a school help they need in a crisis." Sheriff Dan McClelland.

Several Chardon area schools will take part in a pilot radio communications program that provides school staff with an immediate link to first responders in the event of an emergency.

Motorola’s SchoolSAFE Solution program, unveiled last Thursday during a training seminar for administrators from 10 Chardon area public and Catholic schools, is being provided for free and provides direct two-way communication between school staff and first responders.

“This is time-saving … when time can be critical in saving a child’s life or getting a school the help they need in a crisis,” said Sheriff Dan McClelland.

Tori Tucker, a representative of QDS Communications, of Centennial, Colo., said School SAFE radios and other special equipment cost up to $50,000 per unit.

Chardon Schools were chosen to launch the communications program in Ohio because of the Feb. 27, 2012, shooting at Chardon High School, she added.

More than 200 school staff and emergency service personnel attended the seminar at 470 Center St., Chardon.

Motorola’s donation provides about 250 free mobile radios to staff at all 10 Chardon area schools, Tucker said.

The gift also includes internal “towers,” which are small and look nothing like a cell tower, she added.

Each is equipped with software that bridges together school and emergency service mobile radios, she said and internal communications towers in each school make the radio links possible.

The largest recipient of the Motorola donation is Chardon Schools, which has about 3,200 students. Others are St. Mary’s School in Chardon, Notre Dame Elementary School, Notre Dame Cathedral Latin High School and the Notre Dame Educational Center.

Teachers in each school underwent program training about two weeks ago, McKenna said, and staff participated in Thursday’s training.

Among those involved in SchoolSAFE are 48 Chardon school personnel chosen by Superintendent Michael Hanlon to form a “crisis team,” staff members in each school who will be directly involved in case of an emergency, McKenna said.

The program was created as the result of shootings at Columbine High School in 1999, Chardon High School and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. last year, Tucker said.

Motorola representative Samantha Spaulding contacted McKenna about the program last year, and law enforcement officials, emergency service responders and Chardon area school officials decided to accept the program, he said.

The two-way radio communications will enable school staff to provide information to police and firefighters who are responding to a school emergency, “so we can better combine and coordinate our response,” McClelland said.

The SchoolSAFE program has been under development several years and is the “next generation” in emergency communications, Hanlon said.

The Chardon school district is among the school systems throughout the country that have been looking at new ways to improve the flow of information between first responders and on-site school personnel in case of an emergency, Hanlon said.

“(It) will enhance our ability to offer a safe and secure school environment within the Chardon Schools,” he said.