Houston County seeks new emergency communication system

Houston County seeks new emergency communication system

HOUSTON CO., AL (WSFA) - The Houston County Commission is moving forward with a new communication system for emergency responders.

The $1.5 million upgrade is expected to improve several communication issues.

County leaders say the current communication system is old and it's time for an upgrade. The county has been having numerous issues with the system and repairs have become difficult.

"We operate off of one communication site in Houston County. It causes issues out in the county, because not all areas are covered because of the terrain and buildings," said Bill Rafferty, Captain of the Houston County Sheriff's Office.

With the new system, officials are looking to add seven tower sites throughout the county. This will be especially helpful for emergency responders when it comes to handheld radios.

"This will be a great advantage for communications for us from dispatch to our deputies and deputies to our dispatch; especially in areas where you may only have one chance to call for help if you're in a situation, or you're out of your car chasing someone through the woods or you're at a residence out in the county," Rafferty said.

The City of Dothan recently decided to upgrade its own communication system, using a new Motorola system. While Houston County is going with a different system, Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver says they'll still be interchangeable.

"We have to determine what we can purchase without bidding on the state bid. We've got to determine the things that need to be bid on so we can begin that process; we've got to locate the towers," Culver said.

Officials are hoping to have the new communication system up and running by this year, just in time for the completion of the new E-911 center.

In addition to emergency responders, officials expect the new communication system to benefit the road and bridge department as well as bus drivers.

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