Emergency Responders Upgrade Radios [AUDIO]
You may have noticed the vehicles parked in front of Casper's Hall of Justice, actually blocking the northbound lane of David Street. The reason is that all emergency responders are getting their radios upgraded to be able to talk to each other. K2 Radio spoke with Natrona County Emergency Management Coordinator Lt. Stewart Anderson. Agency to agency, county to county, statewide:
LT. ANDERSON: What we're in the process of doing, several years ago we went digital with our 800 system, changed over all our radios, emergency response radios over to a digital system and this is kind of a big, second phase. The state of Wyoming, we have the 800 MHz system, and they have a VHF digital system and we're linking the two up together. Theirs is called WYO Link. It's a statewide system that enables their units to talk statewide and that, and what were doing is marrying up the two; that's been done, and now we're in the process of getting all our local emergency response portable radios and vehicle radios reprogrammed with the updated versions of software, as well, as they will be able to talk from their 800 radios to the WYO Link and some units have the WYO Link radios, if you will, that can talk back to the 800 system.
SANDOVAL: And so in order to do that, you actually have to get the vehicle here and get the radio working so that it's in the system.
LT. ANDERSON: Correct, we're reprogramming the encryption on the law enforcement radios, which makes it unable to be scanned. It makes it to the radio operation system very secure. As well as adding, our first phase is we added some of the other high band channels, what we call talk groups now, into those radios. I'll give you an example, the other day there was the emergency manager down in Converse County just got his WYO Link radio program but we also had him add some of our 800 MHz channels in there, or talk groups, and we're able to communicate either way now, so it's expanding the communication capabilities statewide as well as a big step here in Natrona County.
SANDOVAL: I remember shortly after 9/11 there was inability for fire to talk to police and county versus state versus city. And this is designed to take care of all that?
LT. ANDERSON: Correct, our first big step after 9/11 when we had the funds come down from the federal government in the in the way of grants was to upgrade our 800 MHz system get all our local units on that so at least in this county we're all interoperable. Now's the next big step so that we're interoperable to other counties, other state agencies. We can talk the Highway Patrol; they can talk to us. We can talk to the WYDOT folks and they can talk to us. So now this is the next big step of being truly interoperable because it is a direct fallout from 9/11 because back in New York the fire units and police units could not talk to each other. We find nationwide, in the last 30 years that I've been doing this, when things go wrong about 90 percent of that you can go back and look at it and say lack of communication, whether it be radio frequencies or the electronic capabilities didn't exist. So this is making a giant leap electronically and digitally and the end result is lives will be saved and it'll be more efficient to do any type response day-to-day operations, let alone some large major response. We've been working towards that for at least a couple years to get those two systems married up.
SANDOVAL: Okay. Thank you.
LT. ANDERSON: You bet.