Radios good move toward school safety

Published 8:13 am Thursday, January 25, 2018

The Clark County Board of Education made the right move Tuesday night when it unanimously approved the purchase of a unified handheld radio system for the district.

The cost of the new system hovered just under $130,000, which is a small price to pay when it comes to the potential benefits and added safety the system will provide.

In the wake of a school shooting that left two teens dead and another 18 injured in Marshall County Tuesday morning, the board moved on the matter with no resistance.

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We echo board member Ashley Ritchie’s sentiments when she said the purchase was a “no brainer.”

As Ritchie noted in the meeting, it took two minutes from the time of the first shot in Benton, Kentucky, until 911 was called — and a lot can happen in two minutes.

This new radio system will include 200 handheld radios that will link administrators at Central Office, bus drivers, bus garage officials, school resource officers and selected teachers. More importantly, these devices will offer a direct link to Winchester Police dispatchers.

The new system makes Clark County Public Schools the first in the state with a direct radio line to the community’s 911 dispatch. Winchester Police dispatchers can constantly monitor the district’s emergency channel.

That means when an emergency announcement comes across the district’s radios, emergency responders can be dispatched before 911 is even called — trimming valuable and possibly life-saving minutes off response time.

Kentucky’s recent school shooting is a stark and sad reminder that tragedies of this type can hit in communities like ours. We pray that our local schools and dispatchers never have to use this feature. We hope to see more measures taken in coming weeks to prepare the students and staff at Clark County Public Schools, local emergency responders and the community for tragedies like that in Marshall County. Seminars, practice sessions and other measures can be taken to make sure everyone from teachers to students and even parents know what to do in the event of an emergency.

The board’s approval Tuesday night proves school safety is of utmost importance, as it should be.