Communications System for Emergency Services in Greene County "Unreliable"

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Dispatch center, Greene County Dispatch center, Greene County
Sheriff Steve Smith Sheriff Steve Smith
Greene County administrator, John Barkley Greene County administrator, John Barkley
Greene County dispatch center Greene County dispatch center
Communication tower, Greene County Communication tower, Greene County

Greene County is facing a big problem when it comes to first responders communicating with each other.

County leaders are exploring an overhaul to the emergency communications system, as the current one in use is unreliable.

"We have situations as it stands where enforcement, fire rescue personnel would need to come outside from a burning building to have communication with one of their colleagues in the field. We need to do something about that immediately," said Greene County’s Administrator John Barkley. 

Sheriff Steve Smith considers the situation a public safety crisis.

"We had an incident a few years ago where a fireman was in a burning structure and tried to radio out and couldn't get out," said Smith.  

The county administrator says emergency crews have a hard time relaying information to dispatchers on a regular basis.

The two main issues that are contributing the communication issue is the mountainous terrain in many locations, as well as a signal reaching inside buildings. 

Barkley says they are looking into adding new radios along with more towers in the rural areas and fiber communication lines.

Greene would like to partner with Madison, Fluvanna, and Louisa counties to make the price tag cheaper.

Estimates run between four and six million dollars.

"I think most citizens feel the same way as long as they know their money is being spent wisely. This could be saving a lot of lives,” said Smith. 

After coming up with funding options, the board of supervisors will review plans in June.

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