Emergency Communications Equipment

Area of Focus: Basic Education & Literacy

Lead Club Name: Moraga

Lead Rotarian: Koo, Debbie

Year: 2019-20

Project Budget: $12,000.00

DDF Grant Amount: $8,000.00

The Moraga School District (MSD), which includes three elementary schools and one intermediate school with 1869 students, recently received a district wide safety assessment from Safe Havens International, which is one of the leading school safety experts in the country. Safe Havens gave the recommendation that the MSD would benefit from portable radios (AKA walkie talkies) for each teacher to have in emergency situations, such as earthquake, fire, or active shooter. In many of these situations, cell towers could be down and two way radios would be the only means of communication. These radios were selected based on the recommendations from Moraga Orinda Fire Department (MOFD). The radios would have the capability to connect to the Moraga Public Works channel, which the MOFD and the Moraga Police Department rely on in the event of an emergency. The two way radios would allow teachers to communicate with one another. They would also allow the teachers to communicate directly with police and fire. This would dramatically improve the safety of all of the children and staff at the Moraga Schools. There are 105 teachers or staff needing a two way radio. Amazon sells the Wouxun KG-UV6D Two Way radio, that MOFD recommends, for $115 each. 105 x $115=$12075. See PDF for make, model, and price. The MOFD recommended them a few years ago. The Moraga School District originally purchased one radio per school site and one for the District Office. These particular radios were selected as they allow communication when and if cell towers go down and because they allow schools to communicate with local municipalities and first responders. School districts are underfunded and cannot purchase the walkie-talkies. School districts do not have specific funding for emergency supplies. Funds are exceptionally limited due to state funding. CA ranks 41st in the nation in per-pupil funding. Per-pupil funding just recently returned to 2008-2009 funding levels. Furthermore, pension costs have more than doubled since 2013 with no revenue stream. Unless an existing parcel tax is renewed, revenue will decrease by $1 million on July 1, 2020. Having these two way radios is considered “best practice” to address communication needs during emergency situations. Communication is an imperative to managing crisis communication. In the absence of cell phones, the walkie-talkies will be relied on for all communication. There is evidence from other school districts that they are doing this. A number of school districts in Contra Costa County are using walkie-talkies. Additionally, local municipalities, such as the Town of Moraga, the City of Orinda and the City of Lafayette are all using the same model walkie-talkies. More importantly, the Moraga Orinda Fire Department is using them. A small amount of special training is needed. Staff will need to be trained to use the walkie-talkies. Training runs about 15 minutes. Every walkie-talkie will need to be formatted by computer before using them. The Moraga Orinda Fire Department will assist in formatting the devices. Students can use these, if needed. While not specifically designed for student use in an emergency, a student who knows how to operate a basic walkie-talkie should be able to use them. Existing radios have remained in full operation since 2012. While very sturdy devices, should one break and be severely damaged, the radio will likely be replaced as repairs could exceed the cost of a new walkie-talkie. Our PTAs would be asked to cover the costs to replace. Walkie-talkies are waterproof. MRC’s commitment does end with the purchase. MRC members can report on their use and that we run monthly walkie-talkie radio checks. MRC could use them for events, such as the MRC School Field Day event. The walkie-talkies come with desktop charging stations which will be housed in a safe location in classrooms, out of children’s direct reach. A trial period at one of the schools is not needd as each school already has one walkie-talkie that has been in place for several years. They work exceptionall well, however, having only one in the office severely limits communication. Moraga School District welcomes the opportunity to present a follow-up presentation to the MRC and include a representative from the Moraga Orinda Fire Department to show and explain how they are being used and will be used in the event of an emergency.

<< Project Showcase