By David Eck
COLERAIN TWP. - When suburban Hamilton County police departments began using a new radio system Wednesday, it was the first time police and fire departments in the county could talk to each other on the same communications system.
Hamilton County commissioners joined police and fire officials from across the county at a ceremony in Colerain Township to dedicate the county's new $30 million, Motorola 20-channel, 800-megahertz ultra-high-frequency digital trunked public safety communications system.
The system replaces a fire radio system that dated to the 1940s and a police system that was about 30 years old.
Police and fire personnel for years have complained that those systems were overloaded and lacked the capacity for police officers and firefighters to talk to each other on the same radio.
"We're now going to be able to talk to any police and fire unit in the county," said Kim Fladung, Reading assistant fire chief. "In the past, we had to carry multiple radios for multiple systems. This will greatly enhance day-to-day emergency communications, but will have tremendous value when multiple agencies are responding to major events or disasters."
Fire and emergency medical units were switched onto the system last week.
"Keeping our communities and families safe plays a critical roe in our effort to provide a reliable emergency communications system," County Commissioner John Dowlin said.
"This new state-of-the art system gives law enforcement and public safety organizations all over Hamilton County a valuable tool to help assure the protection and public health of the people in our neighborhoods."
In addition to bringing police and fire department communications together, the new radio system eliminates dead spots around the county and provides clarity even in buildings, officials said.
"I can't think of anything that's this significant in this county since the implementation of 911 in 1988," said William Hinkle, director of the Hamilton County Communications Center.
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