Davidson County working to improve radio communications during emergencies

DAVIDSON COUNTY, N.C. – Davidson County is working on a plan to revamp its public safety radio system to make it easier for EMS, fire, and other first responders to share information during emergencies.

Two 480-foot VIPER towers will soon be put in and activated, allowing all first responders in the county to better communicate during emergencies.

"Police officers and paramedics and firefighters would have the ability to communicate with one another with one radio," said Terry Bailey, director of emergency communications.

First responders in the county currently use a VHF system which is more than 40 years old.

"It's not really performing at its best," Bailey said.

Bailey says it has a weak signal and often drops calls to and from first responders.

"They have trouble hearing us,” he said. “We have trouble hearing them as well with this older technology."

"There are areas of the county that it is hard to reach communications by a hand held radio," said Larry James, director of emergency services.

The VIPER towers will connect to a statewide system.

"With a VIPER radio, you have channels you can switch to where you can intercommunicate with fire, with law enforcement," James said.

The county already has two towers: each one worth about $1 million.

It’s an investment emergency officials say is well worth the money.

“It will give them a whole lot better coverage,” Bailey said. “The sound quality would be a whole lot better."

Bailey says it will take at least a year and a half before the two new towers are put in and the VIPER system goes live throughout the county.