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Franklin County radio system up and running

April 28, 2011

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. — Franklin County (Pa.) Assistant Communications Director Ben Rice told the county commissioners Thursday the county's new radio system is fully tested, operational and integrated to accept future technology.

The system provides greater radio coverage and enhanced features to improve responder safety, according to a news release. The modernization of the previous system was the result of years of planning and testing as well as a county investment of several million dollars, the news release stated.

"The system will allow us to integrate technology such as text messaging and digital photographs as the standards are set and the equipment becomes available," Bryan Stevenson, emergency communications coordinator, said in the news release.

He noted that during the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 students attempted to text  the 911 center, but the technology to accept that information was unavailable and the messages were not delivered.

Franklin County's system has become fully operational, with 20 municipalities and all emergency responders working off of the same system.

"Radio interoperability will allow the responders and municipalities to be able to work closely during emergencies to improve services to the citizens," Commissioner Bob Thomas said.

In addition, the system allows the responders from Franklin County to communicate directly with responders from neighboring counties and the state.

Testing of the radio coverage, which was done earlier this year, indicates the radio system is able to work virtually everywhere in Franklin County, the news release states.

Under the previous system, more than 25 percent of the county was without radio service and emergency responders had difficulty communicating with each other.

"This system works even where cell phones don't," Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski said.

In the news release, Commissioners Chairman David Keller acknowledged the work of the people involved in the radio project.

"Our emergency responders need the best tools available to provide for the safety of our citizens — lives will be saved because of this investment," he said.

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