MORGAN COUNTY, W.Va. (WDVM) — Communication is key, as the saying goes. Yet some first responders in Morgan County recount times where their emergency radios, which they rely on, fail, even when they’re only 10 feet apart.
“Can’t say that we have had a life safety with it to this date, but the potential is there,” said Kevin Duckwall, Chief of EMS for Morgan County.
Emergency officials believe part of the reason may have to do with the state siren system being a Motorola. The radios are Kenwood brand.
“It appears that if we go with the Motorola portable and mobile radios, that it will improve the process of communicating with towers,” said Duckwall.
When first responders out in the field lose signal, they say they have to manually push a button on the radio, so the radio can “seek the next tower that it can communicate with.”
The Morgan County Commission held a special meeting Friday to discuss purchasing options for new emergency radios for the county.
Ronald Mason is a retired West Virginia state trooper, now Morgan County 911 Director, so this personally hits home to him.
“I feel that if we can improve our emergency communications, it will be a benefit to everybody,” said Mason.
Authorities estimate $1.2 million will purchase somewhere around 318 radios to ensure effective communication and the safety of our first responders.
“I don’t personally care what radio system the county uses or who we go with,” said Mason. “I just want it to work.”
Emergency officials say the towers will be updated in November, which means the county may have to go back to analog radios if the current digital radios don’t comply with the updates.