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Lee County plans to upgrade radios for first responders

Posted at 6:53 AM, Sep 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-17 10:43:11-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When there's a crisis, every second counts. That's why Lee County is updating its radio system that first responders use every day to respond to emergencies.

Officials said the current radio system they have now is outdated and more than 10 years old. They said some first responders are running into problems when their radios don’t work.

“We don’t want to get stuck in a major catastrophe with radios that don’t work. We want to make sure our first responders have the tools they need,” said Lee County commissioner, Brian Hamman.

When Hurricane Irma hit, officials said emergency crews were having trouble communicating with each other because their radios were blocked 80,000 times by busy signals.

Safety is the county’s top priority and now, they are making sure first responders have the tools they need to respond to emergencies, without the worry if their radios are going to work.

County commissioners plan to spend almost $18 million to update its government radio system.

It’s a big expense but they said it's a needed expenditure. They also said it won’t impact taxpayers.

“This is an expenditure that we’ve been planning for in the last several years, so this won’t impact your taxes going forward. This is something we planned for and will pay for with cash,” said Hamman.

The county said they are upgrading from analog to digital, which will almost triple the capacity for emergency calls.

The new system will allow 64 agencies in Southwest Florida to communicate better with one another.

On Tuesday, county commissioners approved the contract and hired Motorola to move forward with replacing the radio system.

They expect the upgrade to take 2 years.

During that time, they will work on the towers, connection and then finally replacing the radios.