Friday, September 9, 2011

Fewer Communication Breakdowns Between 1st Responders With New System

By Matt Kroschel

Grand Junction- A decade after the 9/11 terrorist attacks critics say communication between emergency responders from different agencies is still not even close to being perfect. But what about here on the Western Slope?

It has been labeled the biggest Homeland Security need and millions of dollars have been spent to try to solve it. Radio communication that gives every agency the ability to talk with each other on one radio frequency.

On the Western slope, thousands of federal grant dollars have poured in for construction of new towers and equipment.

Mesa County emergency manager Andrew Martsolf said no system is perfect but a lot of work has been done to get the radios working as best as they can. They are battling the rugged terrain in the area which can create dead zones for radio coverage.

The new system was really tested this past spring with wide spread flooding along the Colorado River corridor, pushing a button gave instant communication to departments up and down the river.

In the next few weeks, the last remaining fire departments operation the old radio waves will make the switch, bringing everyone on board with the new system.

There are still plans to construct a few more towers around the area to help make the signal stronger.

According to government spending reports a total of about 250 million dollars has been spent statewide on the radio system upgrades.

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