La Porte County schools can now communicate directly with first responders

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Schools in LaPorte County now have a new resource to keep students and staff safe.

Emergency radios directly link them with first responders.

They change how schools can handle moments of crisis.

Instead of dialing 911 and talking to a dispatcher who then relays the message to responders, communication bypasses the middleman and goes instantly to people that can help.

If the school has an emergency that they feel they need help, all they have to do is hit an orange emergency button. There's no need to hold it down to talk.

Jeff Wiatrowski with LaPorte County Emergency Management says the message "comes up on our portables and we now have a hot mic so that everyone – all of the law-enforcement, EMS, our 911 center can hear what’s going on.”

He says the goal of having a radio in every school is to cut down on response time for any type of problem.

The gear and installation cost about $7,000 for each school.

It's price that is well worth it to Rolling Prairie Elementary School Principal Becky Bartlett.

Bartlett says, “I think it lends that sense of safety and security. It’s raised the level. We feel a little bit more comfortable because it does go immediately to outside sources – people who would maybe be in the area could come a little bit quicker with the button now.”

Secretary and Tresurer at Rolling Prairie Elementary School Angela Curless sits in the front office just feet away from the radio.

She says it’s is a great resource to keep the school safe. She hopes she never has to use it but says she won’t hesitate to push this orange button if she needs to.

Many schools in LaPorte County also have separate walkie-talkie systems where teachers and administrators can communicate with each other.

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