RADIO UPGRADE: Lyon County proposes system upgrades, the benefits it would provide and the price tag

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The Lyon County 911 board is made up of leaders from the emergency management center, Emporia Police Department, Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, Emporia Fire Department, Emporia State Police, and the Lyon County Communications Center.

After more than a year of research, they are proposing an upgrade to their emergency radio system. This is the second presentation of the proposal, and it comes with a hefty price tag.

However, the board says the upgrades are worth it. 

If you have an emergency, you call 911, but what happens next?

“When you call and report a problem to the communication center, they have to tell the responders to come to you and help you, and if they can’t do that, then that’s a problem,” Lyon County Emergency Management Director Jarrod Fell said,

That’s what the radio system does. It also allows first responders to communicate with one another.

The current system in Lyon County, installed in 2004, is reaching the end of its life.

“They don’t make parts for a lot of the stuff anymore, and if the parts aren’t available on the shelf, then we can’t get these fixed,” Fell said. “So instead of being in an emergency later, let’s look for a 2020 radio project to meet the solutions as best for our community and our responders.”  

The project would upgrade four radio towers, responders’ radios, provide GPS services, and cover 95% of the streets. But lets break down the cost.

“The money part is what gets our attention at this point.” Emporia city commissioner Danny Giefer said.

The 911 board told county and city commissioners with the current proposal, the county would pay for the $2.9 million infrastructure, meaning tower sites. In addition to radios for county responders and buildings, it would cost the county nearly $4 million in total.

The city of Emporia would also pay for radio upgrades for city responders, totaling $1.1 million dollars.

For a more specific budget breakdown, click here and go to page 12-13.

“We’ll have to talk about our budget cycle, and we may be discussing the possibility of a different system than what they proposed today, but with every informational meeting that we’ve had, we learn more about it.” 

More research and conversation will continue on the proposal as the project moves forward.

The new system would align with the Kansas Statewide Interoperable Communication System (KSICS).

This creates seamless communication with other responders across the entire state. This would be a major benefit for outside Lyon County responders who need help, and vice versa.

The Shawnee County radio system is already set up to be able to exchange information with others on that state system.

For a more detailed outline of the entire proposal, you can click here.

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