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February 11, 2014

Commissioners purchase digital radios for emergency responders in Hunt County

COMMERCE — After the horrific attacks on the World Trade Centers on Sept. 11, 2001, the federal government mandated that emergency responders from all departments have a streamlined communications system to interact with other agencies during future emergencies.

During the terrorist attacks, the various responders could not effectively communicate to coordinate with each other.

The P25 mandate requires all departments to have a radio that can operate on a certain frequency for effective communication among the various emergency responders.

According to Richard Hill, director of Homeland Security for Hunt County, Commerce and Hunt County are continuing to fill that mandate.

The Hunt County Commissioners Court recently approved the purchase of two digital radios for Precinct 2 Hunt County Constable Wayne “Doc” Pierce, and the Homeland Security Department, replacing the current analog ones.

Hill said this is a huge step forward for the departments, because the Commerce, Texas A&M University-Commerce and Greenville Police departments all use digital radios; which means that neither Pierce or Homeland Security can communicate with them during an emergency.

“We can’t hear them. We can’t talk to them,” he said. “It makes it really, really tough for emergency management to communicate with the departments. We need to be able to talk with all departments to communicate.”

Since they could not communicate by radio, Hill said the departments had to communicate by LAN lines or cell phones, which are not desirable since those two forms of communication can easily be rendered inoperable during an emergency.  

“We had to do something,” he said, adding that many of the counties surrounding Hunt County, including Hopkins and Fannin, all use digital radios. “We were kind of sitting here like an island.”

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