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County works to standardize radios


April 4, 2019

On Tuesday morning, Commissioner Fred Devish kick-started the process of bringing all the emergency response radios in the county in line with one another. The idea, he said, is to standardize radios between fire response, EMS and possibly road and bridge such that they all have the same frequencies assigned to the same channels.

Hoping to “start the ball rolling”, Devish convened representatives from county fire, including Arnie Altaffer, Jerry Boone and Dallas Rolf, as well as Emergency Response Coordinator Will Cunningham, Fire Warden Jeff Garman and Sheriff Jeff Hodge.

Rolf noted that the process of standardizing radios was actually begun in 2016, but fire season hit and was a busy one that year. However, at that time, Boone was able to gather a list of the existing channels around the county.

Among the issues with standardization are that different radios have different numbers of channels; some fire zones work with analog and others with digital; and that some were programmed at different times to others, using different information. Devish stated his hope that all radios can not only be programmed in the same way, but in a manner that makes it easy for first responders to communicate during an incident.

“Ours will be a little different,” pointed out Hodge. Devish agreed, but said the Sheriff’s Office will still need to be aware of what frequencies emergency responders are using and have access during events.

“That way, everybody knows what’s going on,” Devish said.

Hodge, who has experience of standardizing radios within his own department, offered his expertise and knowledge. He stressed the importance of looking at the big picture and aiming for interoperability.

If the county experiences a big incident, Hodge says, first responders do not want to be swapping between zones constantly. This was something his department had to figure out with Wyoming Highway Patrol, he said, advising “the simpler, the better” for the overall system.

Devish volunteered to take on the leadership of a small group of emergency responders to decide what frequency each fire zone, town ambulance service and so on will need to create a “user-friendly arrangement” for the first responders. Hodge, Boone, Rolf and Cunningham all agreed to take part. Contacts will also need to be established for town departments and other first response teams not represented at this initial meeting.


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