HANOVER, VA (WWBT) - An upgrade to emergency communications in Hanover County was rolled out today. New radios coupled with a new communications building and towers are creating a more efficient system that will help save lives.
We are standing right now in the Mechanicsville volunteer fire station where believe it or not the old radio system is not picking up and that was the case in a lot of other areas, both rural and suburban. Now, a brand new radio station is in place, and that's no longer an issue.
When these emergency workers are responding to a call, they won't have to worry anymore about whether their radio will work. A $36 million system that's been five years in the making is now in place.
Battalion Chief William Jones says, "3 o'clock this morning, we actually did a roll call with every station and every radio to make sure everybody is receiving the proper notifications because we have to be sure that our public is taken care of."
For the past year, the new radios have been tested in spots where the old ones would fail, and new towers were added when needed.
Jones has been on a call when his radio wasn't working and says it was a scary feeling.
"This winter we had a fire in the eastern part of our county and it was during a thunderstorm and we lost all of our radio completely," he said.
Fortunately, Jones' cell phone worked, and he was still able to call for help fighting the large fire. Trouble is, cell phones don't always work either, especially in some of the more rural parts of the county. A communications failure can cost precious time and lives. The new system will take that worry away.
"The police officers have it, we have it, all of our units have it now, and it just gives us a quicker, safer safety net for us that we know it's going to work," Jones said. "If we get a call right now for mutual aid in Henrico county, we used to have to do all this patching and all that, all I got to do is a turn a knob, and I'm on their frequency, so we do more with less."
The old radios will not go to waste. They are going to be reprogrammed and given to other surrounding counties like Caroline and Louisa to use in mutual aid situations.