Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

October 10, 2012

First responders get radio upgrade thanks to grant

Jackson Adams
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM — Effingham County Emergency medical services will be receiving an upgrade thanks to a new state grant.

    The county will be receiving a 50/50 grant from the state for new FM UHF radios, which should provide better communication between first responders. Effingham County is receiving more than $6,650, while Shelby County is receiving more than $11,700 for the update.

    “It’s going to be really helpful,” said Russ Thomas, director of the Effingham County Emergency Management Agency. “They’re going to have the same services as the fire department. Responders are going to be able to just change the channel and talk to whoever they need to talk to.”

    The new FM radios will be replacing the outdated 800 models. With Shelby and Effingham counties receiving the update, Thomas said emergency communication between the counties should be smoother.

    “UHF radios are so much more popular in southern Illinois, so it should be able to give everyone the capability to communicate together,” he said.

    The new radios should also ease the problem of radio congestion, when multiple users are all tuned to the same frequency.

    “Most of the ambulance services operate on the same frequency,” Thomas said. “This is a problem that has been going on for years and years and years and years. The frequency was getting kind of busy. Now we have the added benefit of cleaner frequencies and being allowed to talk to the ambulances and fire services.”

    Although the UHF radios will be able to communicate with fire departments and ambulances, communication with police vehicles will not be possible, as those radios operate on a separate system.

    “It still shouldn’t be a problem,” Thomas said.

    Thomas said Effingham County has already received its radios and are waiting for FCC  approval on the new frequencies before the new system can go into effect.

    Jackson Adams can be reached at 217-347-7151, ext. 131, or jackson.adams@effinghamdailynews.com.