Grant fully funds digital radios for Ala. EMS agency

The State Homeland Security Grant Program will give the service better communication abilities


By Laura Camper
The Anniston Star

HEFLIN, Ala. — Cleburne County Emergency Medical Service soon will be able to go digital along with other county emergency agencies, thanks to a $28,000 grant through the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency.

The grant, from the 2013 State Homeland Security Grant Program, will fully fund a digital communication network, said County Administrator Steve Swafford.

The problems EMS is having with its communication system were also being experienced by the Ranburne and Heflin police departments and the sheriff’s office until they went to a digital radio system about a year ago, Swafford said.

This will give the service, which averages 250 to 300 calls a month, better communication abilities, said Tracy Lambert, director of EMS.

“We have a lot of trouble with communication in certain areas, especially low-lying areas,” Lambert said.

Trickum Valley, for instance, is an area EMTs and paramedics know they will not be able to contact dispatch or hospitals by radio, he said.

“There have been times we’ve had to resort to cell phones,” Lambert said. “We’ve been lucky they’ve never interfered with communications about a patient.”

The county bought 20 portable radios for EMS staff to wear and nine vehicle radios, Lambert said. That will be enough radios for all the ambulances and the two EMS trucks, he said. The grant is also paying for some upgrades to a repeater on Turkey Heaven Mountain that the service uses, Lambert said.

Lambert said the upgrades will replace radios that are at least a decade old. The new ones can be used on either analog or digital frequencies, he said. For now, the new system will be used on analog, but the service is in the process of getting a digital license, Lambert said.

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©2015 The Anniston Star (Anniston, Ala.)

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