New radio system improves communication in Whitfield County
WHITFIELD COUNTY, Ga. (WDEF) – Whitfield County first responders have a new radio system, after they say their previous was one was decades old, and out of date.
The new radio system was rolled out in August. Firefighters say the system benefits both residents and emergency responders.
The communications system used by first responders in Whitfield County was forty years old.
Whitfield County Fire Chief Edward O’Brien says they desperately needed an upgrade.
“The biggest thing for us is the communication safety for our personnel. We had locations in the county where we couldn’t even transmit once a crew went on a call. We weren’t sure if we would ever be able to hear back from them over the radio system, but now we haven’t found any areas where we can’t talk back to the dispatchers,” Chief O’Brien said.
After two years of planning, the county has a $12 million state of the art radio system, paid for by a special purpose local option sales tax.
Chief O’Brien says the new system helps firefighters communicate if they are in trouble.
“Internally for us, especially for firefighters, you get inside a structure, something happens, you may not be able to get to your radio all you have to do is press an orange button and they will know you are in trouble and the incident commander will know that quickly to be able to get some help to you,” Chief O’Brien said.
He says this is a major improvement from before, when they had to use a talk around channel.
“Which really was a glorified walkie-talkie where the most distance might have been a mile that you could hear each other and they were completely off the system and now everything is through our 911 center. It is recorded so we can go back and listen to things if we need to work on our improvement and safety,” Chief O’Brien said.
He says this was an expensive project, but well worth it.
“Not just to help the citizens, but to help the first responders and all the different police, fire, and sheriff’s office, just a great improvement for our daily safety,” Chief O’Brien said.
The radios are on a regional system, so emergency responders in Whitfield County can communicate with other agencies in Georgia and Tennessee. Officials say this will be useful, especially if there is a regional emergency.