Guilford County Commissioner Alan Perdue gave a presentation on safety at the National Association of Counties (NACo) Legislative Conference on best practices when it comes to communications systems in schools designed to allow effective emergency response to shooters and other threats.

Perdue was a longtime Guilford County Emergency Services Director before stepping down and running for the District 2 commissioners seat, so he knows a thing or two about safety.  He now flies around the country consulting with and presenting to emergency response agencies – so he also knows a thing or two about giving presentations.

One reason his talk was so well received is that the subject matter could not be more relevant.  At the 2023 NACo conference in Washington, DC, on Saturday, Feb. 11, Perdue’s presentation dealt with the current collaboration between the Guilford County government and Guilford County Schools to enhance the communications capabilities for emergency responders, especially inside of school facilities.

At a time when mass shootings are constant occurrences – very often in schools – the subject is viewed as an important one by county leaders across the country.

Perdue gave his presentation at the Telecommunications and Technology Steering Committee meeting.  That committee handles matters pertaining to policy, including, but not limited to, “the county’s role as a telecommunications regulator, service provider, and consumer, along with cable services technology and implementation.”

Guilford County Commissioner Pat Tillman was effusive in his praise of Perdue’s talk.  Tillman said he was extremely impressed with the presentation.

“He crushed it,” Tillman said. “He did a great job on a very important topic.”

Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Skip Alston could not attend the presentation, but he said he had received very positive feedback on it from others who did.

“I heard he did a great job,” Alston said.

Perdue told the Rhino Times after returning from Washington that he thought one reason the talk resonated so well was because the ability for responders to communicate seamlessly in shooter situations and other emergencies in schools is absolutely essential to an effective response.

He said one of the key things that went wrong in the response to the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, is that key emergency responders could not communicate with each other.

Perdue also said that school walls are often so thick they will eliminate the ability for responders to communicate.

The official stated goal of Perdue’s presentation was “to help policy makers understand how a strong county and school system collaboration can enhance communication capabilities in new and existing schools for both building occupants and emergency responders.”

Perdue said, “Often times, due to a misunderstanding of the critical nature of in-building communications, building owners and developers push back on the adoption of codes and standards requirements due to added costs. Having a clear understanding of the critical nature that in-building communications capabilities can have on emergency responders – like EMS, fire, and law enforcement – while performing their duties is vital.”

He added that knowledge about solutions such as Emergency Responder Communication Enhancement Systems is needed.

“If policy makers are not briefed on this important issue, it makes it difficult for them to effectively work with building owners and developers within their jurisdictions to ensure policies are in place for emergency responders to communicate inside buildings.”