Bryan County working to fix problems with first-responder radio transmission

MGN Online
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BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- After an FCC regulation change last year, the county started having problems with their communication dispatch transmitters.

But the problem has gotten worse in the last month.

"We've been having a lot more issues with the radios, and a lot of static, and not being able to hear our responders as well as we were prior to," Communications Center supervisor Amy Brown said.

The FCC policy change forced all emergency service agencies to narrow the bandwidth of their dispatch frequencies.

Capt. Mike Woodruff with Durant Police said it went into effect January of 2013, but the problems have gotten worse over the past 12 months.

"When it went to 'narrow band,' by that, it obviously creates some coverage problems of all of our emergency responders and radio traffic," he said.

Last year, Durant Police took over dispatch services for all of Bryan County, installing the most up-to-date software and technology. But Woodruff said some of the transmitter equipment out in the field is out of date - a problem which is only enhanced by the newly narrowed bandwidth.

They're bringing in radio engineers to help fix the problem.

"Two things, assess the equipment that we have now, to have maximum output with that. But also evaluate what we can do to have maximum coverage in Bryan County," Woodruff said.

But the problems raise safety concerns for officers in the field.

"Public safety is always a concern with anybody. In law enforcement, fire and rescue, and EMS. Obviously that is priority one for anybody," Woodruff said.

They've recently moved each law enforcement agency to their own frequency to help increase the coverage area. But they're still working on long-term solutions.

"It's discussed daily, what can we do to resolve this problem, in the most expeditious manner we can," Woodruff said.

Brown said it may not be an ideal situation, but they do whatever they can to maintain clear communication.

"We recognize our responders' voices. We have them repeat it if necessary. Sometimes they have to call in on their cellphones to give us the information if they're in a real bad area. But we're able to understand most of it, we've had to have them repeat a lot," she said.

To fix the issue, they're also asking all first responder agencies in the county to help pay for future upgrades.

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