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New Communications System Aims to Help First Responders React Faster

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The system will allow first responders to communicate across county lines The system will allow first responders to communicate across county lines
The counties hope neighboring areas get on board too The counties hope neighboring areas get on board too
FLUVANNA COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

A brand-new state-of-the-art regional communications system is in the works in Fluvanna and Louisa counties.

The Piedmont Public Safety System will link the two counties, allowing first responders to communicate across county lines seamlessly.

As of Wednesday, November 28, the system is partially up and running. Fluvanna County has been using it for about a year with great results, and Louisa County is poised to join in this spring.

“Oh, the system is not even comparable,” Michael Grandstaff, the director of communications with the Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office, said.

Fluvanna County installed a new Motorola radio communication system just over a year ago.

“This system provides so much better coverage that you can’t compare it,” Grandstaff said.

The upgraded six antenna tower sites throughout the county make communications between first responders crystal clear.

“We’re up to 99 percent coverage on a portable,” Grandstaff said.

And with better coverage comes faster response times and therefore a safer community.

“It keeps everybody safer, they make sure that they can get in contact with someone when they need it,” Grandstaff said.

Now, Louisa County is getting in on the system. It’s matching the $7 million that Fluvanna County has already put forth to split the cost of existing infrastructure while adding additional antenna sites.

“We'll split the cost of the core of the system between the two agencies, between the two counties, and it will also split the ongoing maintenance cost,” Grandstaff said.

Neighboring counties on the same system allow law enforcement, fire, and EMS to communicate seamlessly across county lines.

“When we respond in their county, we'll be able to use the same radio - just switch to a different frequency or talk group on that radio and talk right to them, whereas today that's a struggle,” Grandstaff said.

And this could be just the beginning for this regional communications system. Louisa and Fluvanna county administrators report that Greene and Madison counties are interested in joining, too.

“The more counties you can get on the better, because then we would just expand our interoperability capabilities even further,” Grandstaff said.

Adding more counties to the regional system will bring down costs for everyone involved, not only because the counties will all split the costs of infrastructure but also because they will split the cost of annual maintenance.

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