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It’s no secret that good communications is vitally important when managing an emergency. I routinely recommend to K-12 schools, the need to put portable radios in the hands of all:
- building and district administrators
- building and district emergency response teams
- custodial and security staff
- school monitors, aids and recess staff
- physical education staff
- any other staff that may not have access to traditional communications devices (phone, pa etc)
As is often the case with equipment and technology, cost has been an enormous barrier to acquiring enough units to go around….until now.
A growing number of emergency service agencies have been acquiring the BaoFeng UV-5R compact portable radio that can be purchased for a mere $28 from countless retail outlets including amazon.com. You can also order via a purchase order from Baofeng U.S. directly. The reviews thus far have been excellent. In fact, many emergency workers I spoke to actually purchased their own personal radios!
The unit features:
- 128 channel programmable memory
- built-in flashlight
- 4 watts in the frequency range of 136-174 MHz and 400-480 MHz
- a special VHF receive band from 65 – 108 MHz
- a flexible antenna
- Li-ion battery (7.4V 1800 mAh)
- belt clip, wrist strap
- AC adapter (8.4V 600ma) and drop-in charging tray
While this radio is not designed for heavy duty use, it appears to be an exceptional value for the limited wear and tear of school staff use. For an additional $9, you can even add a clip on speaker microphone, for improved hearing of radio transmissions in noisy areas such as cafeterias, playgrounds, gymnasiums or sporting events.
For an investment of just under $1000, there is no reason not to put portable in hands of each and every staff member to ensure exceptional communications and coordination in your schools.
Now for the bad news. Programming the Baofeng is not an easy process. It requires a special cable, software and all of your radio frequency information. If you have no experience programming radios, you should carefully consider whether this radio is for you. There are many videos online that demonstrate the programming process. Here is a link to one of many videos on YouTube that covers the process. Good Luck!
Disclaimer: As emergency management consultants, we have the responsibility to periodically provide impartial product and service recommendations. It is for that reason we do not accept compensation of any kind for product or service reviews. We also attempt to provide alternatives when possible to allow readers to make their own assessments.
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