First Responders Get $100,000 Communication Upgrade

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Nearly three years ago, Southern Idaho Regional Communications (SIRCOMM) began improving radio frequencies on towers for first responder communication in Magic Valley, ID. The Times-News reported the upgrades would improve communication for first responders within their agency, other departments, and SIRCOMM’s dispatch center.

According to Shoshone Protection District Chief Casey Kelley, interference often led to miscommunication or emergency personnel speaking over each other. “You should be the only agency on a channel, and when you’re receiving traffic from a different incident, it’s difficult to deal with,” Kelley said.

Lincoln County Commissioner Rebecca Wood, who serves as the SIRCOMM Joint Powers Board chair, said improvements came after first responders spoke up. She noted that communication issues have not led to a significant safety incident, but it still needs to be addressed.

White Cloud Communications was hired to complete the improvements at a budget of $100,000, said Wood. The board was required to obtain FCC licenses to access additional radio frequencies for project completion, reported the Times-News.

To date, White Cloud says the company has reprogrammed thousands of SIRCOMM radios, plus visited tower sites to readjust equipment to the new frequencies. The company completed one site near Twin Falls, ID on December 16, and first responders already notice an improvement.

“We had a pretty good emergency yesterday where our tactical channels worked great, and they were crystal clear,” Kelley said. “It’s a big change from what we’ve been dealing with, so it’s been a welcome change.”

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