The Milford police and fire departments replaced the radios worn by emergency responders last year, leaving the old stock available for resale.
Instead, the fire and police chiefs agreed to rehab the equipment and distribute them to local schools, the town library and other public places that draw large numbers of children, where administrators and other personnel can use them in an emergency.
The decision followed a series of meetings among town and school officials, in the wake of the Newtown, CT school shooting tragedy.
The radios provide a portable, direct connection to the combined fire and police dispatch at the Milford police station, said Police Chief Thomas O'Loughlin. And police officers hear it too, so they can respond if needed.
Even in everyday incidents, every second counts, he said.
Twenty-one radios were distributed, most to the Milford Public Schools, with one radio going to the Milford Youth Center, two for the Milford Town Library and one radio for the Milford Catholic Elementary School.
The radios will allow personnel to speak with each other inside the buildings on a local frequency, but will also allow them to contact the emergency dispatch, if needed, and then communicate with responding police, firefighters, EMTs or paramedics.
Each radio is either assigned to a person, or to a location, such as one for recess monitors in the elementary and middle schools. If the person uses the radio to contact emergency dispatch, the dispatcher will know immediately who is calling for help, O'Loughlin said.
The radios were rehabbed for their new purpose at a cost of about $25 each, he said, by George Voorhees of Voorhees Communication. They can be carried, or worn at the hip. The rehabbed radios will not include the shoulder unit carried by police.
O'Loughlin said the effort to distribute the radios is the first of its kind in the nation, and "places the services of the police department at the fingertips of school administrators and staff; library and youth center staff."