AL first responders seek statewide emergency communications syst - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

AL first responders seek statewide emergency communications system

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First responders hope to create a statewide communications system for emergencies and disasters (Source: WSFA 12 News) First responders hope to create a statewide communications system for emergencies and disasters (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Green dots represent communications towers and blue indicates coverage areas (Source: WSFA 12 News) Green dots represent communications towers and blue indicates coverage areas (Source: WSFA 12 News)
MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -

In times of emergencies or disasters, communication is critical for first responders. Right now, though, first responders in different areas of Alabama don't have a way to communicate with each other, even if they're in the same part of the state.

Leaders believe that will soon change.

Governor Robert Bentley created the First Responder Wireless Commission two years ago and ever since, members have been working to come up with a solution for a statewide communications system.

The system would provide a gateway for the agencies radios to link up and be able to communicate. State law enforcement and local first responders say communication is always an issue when arriving on the scene of an emergency. 

​Some counties have already implemented the program the state plans to use, Project 25, or are working to get the system up and running.

For the program to be fully operational across the state, officials say it will cost $160 million. Although it is expensive, officials are certain every resident would benefit from the statewide communication system.

"This will save lives," says Charles Murph, a member of the First Responder Wireless Commission. "This system is robust and redundant, so when an officer is making a stop out on the interstate he or she doesn't have to worry about 'well if I keep my radio up to talk to a dispatcher will they be able to hear me?' We know it is going to work.

Local leaders are excited about the benefit too.

"It will not only give us the capability to speak all over the county and get full coverage," says Ernie Baggett, EMA Director for Autauga County, "but it would also allow the other departments who may come over in case of an emergency disaster, the other agencies that would come in, it would help them collaborate together and work together and communicate well."

Officials say once the program is up and running it will cover 95% of the state. They say there will be a few places it can't reach but most areas should be covered.

Right now officials are trying to come up with the money to pay for this system and they're working with lawmakers for a good solution.

If approved by legislatures, it could take only two years to get the system up and running.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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