Emergency Communications Systems

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Hurricane season is in full swing and local emergency agencies are ready for action. Each agency has participated in simulation exercises, but say there is one common problem they all may face if bad weather takes a toll on this area.

News 4 spoke with officials from the local fire department, police department, and the Emergency Management Agency and they are concerned about communications.

Local emergency response agencies rely heavily on the ability to communicate to handle disasters. To be fully functional they need to have the equipment to communicate with one another and with other agencies.

Dothan Fire Chief Samuel Crawford said, "Our communication is a matter of life and death to the 99 percent of our employee base. That's fire and police."

When a community experiences any type of disaster, many agencies come together to secure the area and provide necessary supplies and aide. Emergency response officials are in agreement about what determines their success rate.

"We need to have interoperability. That means one department can talk with another department seamlessly. We also need to make sure that it won't break down," said Dothan Police Chief John Powell

Local officials say they are concerned about the current out dated system. Most agencies are working to find funding to purchase a more reliable system.

Houston Co. EMA Dir. Shelby Wommack said, "We are working slowly to create a system where we have full interoperability communication with all agencies during a disaster."

A new system would give officers in the field more confidence knowing they had a reliable network and would serve the community by providing quick and effective emergency response during a disaster.

A new communication system is very expensive and would require funding from city, county, and state levels.

However officials say the cost is well worth the benefit and the sooner it can be in operation, the more efficient they can be and the more lives they can save during a disaster.

In order to receive funding for a new communication system, elected officials have to support it. To show your support of the system you can contact your local and state elected officials.