Customer Profile:

Located in the heart of an inviting rural community in central Illinois, Elmwood Community Schools are highly rated within the state for academics, quality of teachers and school safety. The district, known for a tradition of excellence, provides education for approximately 700 students from kindergarten through high school.

Customer Concerns and Challenges:

Elmwood Community Schools wanted to:

  • Strengthen their radio communication coverage and reliability—in particular, their ability to communicate with emergency services, should the need ever arise
  • Increase emergency preparedness and access to emergency buttons throughout all parts of the school facilities
  • Ensure the fastest notification and response possible in case of an emergency

However, the district had limited funds to finance a new emergency system and needed to remain fiscally responsible.

The Solution:

Initial Evaluation of Needs

The Elmwood Community Schools solution began with simple troubleshooting. Supreme Radio Communications, Inc., a Response Technologies partner headquartered in Peoria, Illinois, was asked to assist in strengthening Elmwood’s radio communication throughout the school’s extensive building. Barry Thompson, Sales Manager for Supreme Radio, assessed the school’s need and recommended a solution for amplifying the school’s signal. His conversation with Elmwood’s superintendent Dr. Chad Wagner quickly turned to opportunities for improved communication and security for the staff and students.

“Dr. Wagner is very progressive, very positive and very safety-oriented,” Thompson shares. The superintendent recognized the advantages of an integrated security system with a two-second response and requested a quote; however, while fund availability for the radio and connectivity upgrades was there, but the panic button system financing was not. Wagner was made aware of a criminal justice grant for school safety just days before Thompson also suggested it. The school applied and received the necessary funding, enabling the collective team to proceed.

A True Joint Effort

“Dr. Wagner is an ‘I’m going to find a way to make this work kind of guy,’ ” explains Thompson. Dr. Wagner moved quickly, involving local law enforcement early and gaining enthusiastic support for the proposed emergency system from both law enforcement and the local 911 dispatch center who would receive an emergency call directly in the system.

“The school definitely would not have done anything without the backing of the local police and 911 center,” said Thompson, who adds that he believes this backing from law enforcement was one aspect that set the Elmwood Community School’s grant application apart. Elmwood Community Schools was one of only 100 schools throughout the country to receive the federal grant, which the district used to finance most of the new emergency response system and security improvements.

The solution

The emergency response system for Elmwood Community Schools district includes:

  • Centurion Elite® – This award-winning enterprise solution sends emergency alert notifications within two seconds of button activation, using the new radio system, directly to the local 911 center as well as to phones, through text and email with PC Alert.
  • 85 large duress mushroom buttons installed in every classroom, common areas, offices and the gymnasium provide immediate access to the emergency buttons.
  • PCAlert®, which runs on any Windows-based PC, to provide alerts throughout the school.
  • Two-way radio system, tied into the school’s IT system, includes a new Motorola repeater, 8 Motorola XPR2500 bus radios, and 20 Motorola SL300 hand-held radios for use inside the school.

The emergency notification system also has flexibility to grow—with additions like door sensors—as the district’s needs change.


The project moved relatively quickly in part because of the federal grant deadline. Radios were installed in the summer of 2019 while the last components of the Response Technologies emergency notification system were installed in April of 2020.

Team Effort All the Way

Although Thompson handled the initial demonstration because of the quick timetable, Response Technologies took the lead with installation and training. “Our partnership is a great one,” adds Thompson. “Everyone at Response Technologies is accessible and responsive. Most importantly, they truly believe in the product…and they know it inside and out.”


Elmwood Community School’s IT director was extremely instrumental in seamlessly connecting with the school’s existing computer system for PCAlert and emailing. With his knowledge of the system, he is also qualified to train new staff in using the system when necessary. Although training was slowed schoolwide because of unplanned school interruptions with COVID-19, the system stands waiting to protect staff and students as soon as school resumes.

“Our partners—like Supreme Radio—are an extension of us,” says Matt Volkerding, VP of Sales, Response Technologies. “They enable us to increase safety for school districts like Elmwood everywhere. We are proud to support Supreme Radio’s commitment with the latest in emergency response advancements.”

Future Projects

After the quick sales cycle with Elmwood Community Schools, Supreme Radio chose to invest in a Response Technologies demo unit so they would have the independence and freedom to demonstrate the system in action to prospective adopters on short notice. “Seeing the system in action makes all the difference,” says Thompson, adding that it has been particularly helpful when the decision process involves an initial meeting with a school superintendent and then later meetings with different individuals, such as board members.

Using technology to make schools safer and protect school children was one of the many shared goals that brought Supreme Radio and Response Technologies together. Both companies are particularly proud of the opportunity to increase security and strengthen the sense of safety for the entire staff and all students of Elmwood Community Schools.

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