The Motorola XTL 2500 radio is used by first responders across Ohio.  Putnam County schools will receive radios with similar technology
The Motorola XTL 2500 radio is used by first responders across Ohio. Putnam County schools will receive radios with similar technology
PUTNAM COUNTY - The goal of schools is education but while children are being taught, their safety remains a top priority. In Putnam County, the Office of Public Safety has been working for a while to make communication between schools and the emergency lines easier and more direct. Because of funding through a grant, the county will now be able to purchase one radio to be put in each school building.

"We wanted to bring on the schools because we didn't have a good way to communicate to them in an emergency situation," said Putnam County Emergency Management Director, Steve Odenweller.

The radios will be purchased through a grant received by the state at a cost of $49,859. Each school building in Putnam County, including private schools, will have a radio available that is on the same line as the emergency departments in the county. The police department, EMS, and fire department have all been operating on the same radio line for some time and now the schools will have the same communication capabilities in the event of an emergency.
According to Odenweller, the radios are a hybrid, which is a mix between a cell phone and a radio, and it is different from anything they have used in the past. Not only will the schools be able to communicate with the safety departments, they will be able to communicate with the different schools in the county as well. Schools will be in their own talk group and the radios could be used for more than just emergencies.

"On a day-to-day basis the radios could be used for things like weather. If one school sees some bad weather heading their way, they can easily communicate that to any of the other schools in Putnam County," said Odenweller.

After the unfortunate deadly events that have occurred over the last few years in schools across the country, the county has been looking into different ways of making the schools in Putnam County safer. Easier communication is a key in helping protect the students from danger and having a radio in each school building is really just a beginning toward that goal.

"This is just a start; we would like to get the radios in buses, too," said Odenweller. The radios would benefit the buses in many situations, including allowing bus drivers to connect the radio to a computer and find their location on a map. The schools would also be able to track where the buses are at all times.

Odenweller explained the benefit of having these radios for the schools.

"People might ask, 'Why can't we just use cell phones?' Well, with a cell phone it is a little more obvious and more difficult to use in an emergency situation. In a real emergency the (cell phone) towers can go down, due to so many people trying to use their phones at the same time," he said.

Although small, Putnam County is one of the most technologically advanced counties in the state. "The state is really watching what we do," said Odenweller.

"We are excited," he continued. "The focus for schools is education and not communication but with this grant we are able to connect with the schools and know what is happening. It is important for us to have a close-knit community," said Odenweller.

For now, Odenweller stated they are in the process of purchasing the radios. He shared the radios will be put in the school buildings over the summer, which will give them time to learn how they perform and be prepared for the next school year.