Improve of the first-aid radio system nonetheless in negotiations between the district authorities

July 30th – OXFORD – Local guides have taken another step to save the radio system that allows first responders to communicate quickly and easily, although a solution may not arrive as quickly.

The Calhoun County’s 911 Board earlier this month alerted local police, fire departments, and government agencies to a necessary upgrade to the nationwide P25 radio system, which is likely to cost more than $ 5 million. The system enables cross-departmental support, which has been of crucial importance in recent years – for example after the 2018 tornado in Jacksonville and during a tense police patrol on July 3 in Weaver – by connecting rescue workers to one another at the push of a button or a rotary knob. rather than having multiple handsets and control consoles for each authority.

At this meeting, the heads of the emergency services were asked to verbally commit themselves by the local governing bodies to support the system.

They returned to the Oxford Civic Center on Thursday and most governing bodies had accepted the upgrade as necessary, despite the cost.

“It’s a necessity,” said Wayne Willis, Weaver Mayor and former police officer. “It’s not about ‘can we do it’ but ‘how do we do it’.”

Systems provider Motorola will cease supporting the aging technology used by Calhoun County’s authorities through 2023, County 911 director Kevin Jenkins said Thursday, although the system could continue to function for some time after that. The problem, he said, is that Motorola will no longer support the outdated devices and there will simply be no replacement devices when they are needed.

“If a console dies at OPD today, we can’t buy a new one,” said Jenkins. “You have also already developed three different types. That is an important weak point.”

City councils in Anniston, Jacksonville and Oxford had given verbal pledges, their fire chiefs reported; more definitive agreements would have to wait until all parties had made a decision and the prorated cost was available.

The story goes on

Jacksonville State University has not yet made a decision, a spokesman said during the meeting, although the discussion was active.

The Calhoun County Commission also had to commit to a possible upgrade, citing uncertainty about the future of the system and the need for further major upgrade in the years to come.

County Sheriff Matthew Wade and County Administrator Mark Tyner suggested doing a study to ensure that all options were exhausted, which could make it easier to get a commitment from the County Commission – a body that cannot generate new revenue streams.

At the end of the session, it was agreed that the 911 Board would determine the cost of providing such a study and discuss the cost of running that study with the County Commission.

If the commission and Jacksonville State University approve a deposit, another meeting is unlikely, said CEO Gary Sparks.

“All we have to do is get the ball rolling,” said Sparks.

Metro Editor-in-Chief Ben Nunnally: 256-235-3560.

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