Bridge between schools and emergency services grows in 27J

Radios linking teachers, administration, police purchased with grant money

By Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 10/3/19

Eastern Adams County teachers and administrators will get a more direct link with emergency services thanks 359 new two-way radios. Adams County School District 27J added the interoperable radios …

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Bridge between schools and emergency services grows in 27J

Radios linking teachers, administration, police purchased with grant money

Posted

Eastern Adams County teachers and administrators will get a more direct link with emergency services thanks 359 new two-way radios.

Adams County School District 27J added the interoperable radios within their schools in September, bringing the total to more than 500 radios. School personnel can use them to communicate in an effort to enhance security in the district. The radios were paid for with grant money the district received from the Colorado Division of Homeland Security.

“Every second counts in an emergency,” said Sam Ortega, emergency response and crisis specialist for 27J. “If a teacher’s outside and sees somebody suspicious, the faster they can get that information to relayed to others in the school the better.”

Communication between school teachers, administration support staff and students in 27 J schools is vital in maintaining the day to day operations of the district’s schools, he said. In the event of a school emergency or a security breach, it’s even more important that administrators and safety personnel have instant communication.

“Adding these radios enhances our school district’s ability to rapidly and efficiently communicate with safety teams, school personnel and other district personnel” said Ortega.

The district has 30 to 40 radios in each elementary school, with the majority of teachers carrying one. The middle schools and high schools have safety team members or school emergency response teams that carry them. These teams are made up of administrators, support staff, special needs supervisors and each department head in the school.

The radios can be linked directly to police and fire department first responders and 911 dispatchers during an emergency situation. In the event of an emergency, the radios can be “bridged,” which allows direct communication with police officers, and anyone holding a radio can communicate in real time with each other and first responders.

“Once the radios are bridged, every radio will have direct communication with police officers,” said Ortega. “We provide initial and ongoing training for district staff on how to use them, and proper etiquette on the radio.”

The district will perform a -top exercise using the new radios on October 24, in conjunction with school safety month. They’ll run a mock emergency drill, allowing staff and administrators the opportunity to respond using the radios.

“It’s about practice and muscle memory, and remembering what to do under certain circumstances,” said Ortega.

Parents are invited to join the exercise, and should speak with their child’s principal about attending the drill. First responders will participate in the drill as well.

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