Improved Emergency System at Schools

By: Litsa Pappas Email
By: Litsa Pappas Email

HARRISONBURG, Va -- Every school in Harrisonburg has a radio that school leaders can use to tap directly into the emergency communications center (ECC) if an emergency were to happen.

Daniel Kirwan uses the new radio as the assistant principal at Thomas Harrison Middle School.

"You just have different channels, so during the day we just keep it on an administrative channel so we can communicate with downtown if we need to, and then we just switch to the bus channel in the morning and the afternoon," said Kirwan.

Kirwan said it is a great new tool to keep the kids and buses organized, but that is not the only way the schools use the radio. Just a push of a red button will give these schools a direct line to ECC.

"You know if we have an injury or that kinda thing it's been really nice to have cause you get a quicker 911 call," said Kirwan.

A quicker call to 911 can keep kids safe, whether it is a minor injury or a major emergency.

Craig Mackail is the director of operations and community outreach for Harrisonburg City Schools and he said 9/11 had a big effect on getting schools like theirs up to date with better emergency systems.

"If something really happened that was terrible like an active shooter or whatever, that secretary monitoring the radio or the administrator can push the red button on the top and say 'This is what we got goin' on,'" said Mackail.

Kirwan said he is glad they now have a better way to communicate.

Mackail said if something major were to happen, he has one of these radios in the administration office. That way he can make a direct call to all the schools and ECC to keep everyone safe as quick as possible.

Mackail said Harrisonburg City Schools got the radios earlier this year and now every school has faculty trained on how to use it. He said he looks forward to new ways to use technology in the future to keep kids safe.

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