Harvey County Emergency Management wants new radio system

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Newton, Kan. --

When minutes matter in an emergency, first responders rely on their radios to connect with those on the scene. However, in Harvey County, they often hit dead zones.

Don Gruver, Harvey County Communications Director said, "if a deputy is on a traffic stop in the far reaches of the county and he needs help, we can't hear him."

The issued stemmed from an FCC ruling requiring first responders to use less bandwidth. Gruver said, "the end result of that switch over, which took place in mid 2012, is that we've got a tremendous loss in coverage. and a lot of technical issues with our radio systems."

So instead of instant communication, silence on the radio. That's why Harvey County Emergency Management has decided to join the state's system. But it will cost between $3 to $5 million dollars. Harvey County Administrator, John Waltner said, "we anticipate issuing bonds for our portion of it."

They plan to put up three new towers and buy radios for county departments. However, first responders in cities within the county will be responsible for purchasing their own radios. Waltner said, "we know that the other communities will have expenses but we think this is a fair way to do this."

This expensive project is meant to keep citizens in Harvey County safe. Gruver said, "if we can't get a hold of the responders and they can't get a hold of us. that's going to delay response, that could result in a lost life."

They hope to have the system up and running by mid to late 2015.

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