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Washington County Explains Need for New Emergency Communications Equipment

Posted: Wednesday, February 21st, 2018 at 6:28 am
Author: Sally Y. Hart - KCII News

Photo by Sally Y. Hart

The Washington County emergency communications equipment has outlived it’s life expectancy by nearly seven years.

At a press conference Tuesday morning an update on the project to replace that equipment was given. Chief Deputy with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office Shawn Ellingson explained they’ve had a company conduct an analysis and found the system is currently at 35% coverage for portable radios in buildings across the county, He added there are times when emergency crews are responding to an incident along a road, or a car in a ditch, and they have to go back to their emergency vehicle to radio back to dispatch, instead of being able to reach dispatch with their personal radios. The goal is to get to 95% coverage.

Currently, if a part needs replaced the best place they’ve found to get parts is on E-Bay. Communications supervisor Cara Sorrells said the current system is working, “We’re not trying to scare anyone, but it needs to be replaced. And like I said, if we have a major incident we’re all going to feel really bad if we have to go scurry around and find parts so we can keep broadcasting. It does work, but it imagine turning on your personal computer and leaving it on every hour of every day 365 days a year, that’s what’s going on with these radios and these computers, they just keep running so they need replaced.”

The county supervisors have the authorization to bond up to $10.4 million for the purchase of this essential equipment, but it may cost less than that figure. Other funding sources are being sought for a new building to house the equipment. Ellingson said a nice location would be next to the sheriff’s office and jail, with the option to also have an emergency operations command center on site. At this time requests for proposals have been sent out to vendors and are due to the county by March 22nd, at which time a better idea of the full cost will be known.