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Emergency Responders Impressed With New Radio Communications System

The Haddon Fire Department is among those impressed with the new system, which improves communication between first emergency responders throughout the county.

Emergency Responders Impressed With New Radio Communications System
It has been a year since Camden County Emergency Communications Center dispatchers began broadcasting on a new 700 MHz radio system, and emergency responders are praising the advantages they’ve seen associated with the new system.

“The new radio equipment is state of the art and provides us with the necessary communications during fire emergency,” said Chief Joseph A. Riggs, Jr., of the Haddon Fire Company No. 1.  “In the past, every department seemed to have a mix-match of mobile and portable radios, all with varying capabilities.  The new equipment provided now makes all of our departments consistent with equipment, thus making the system more practical, reliable and compatible.” “True interoperability between police, fire & EMS has been achieved and used during searches for missing children.  Major incidents are now managed with multiple channels allowing more air time for units to communicate,” Camden County Communications Center Chief of Communications James Jankowski said.  “Camden County’s significant investment in the radio system has made the job of the first responder safer and allows them to be connected to all of the agencies that must work together.”

The project included the construction of new radio towers in Camden City, Cherry Hill, Gloucester Township, Lindenwold, Pennsauken, Runnemede, Voorhees, Waterford Township and Winslow Township, strategically placed to provide the most coverage during emergency situations.

Under the new system, the transmissions are encrypted to prevent civilians from listening on monitors or cell phones. It also eliminates the problem of interference from digital television stations from as far away as North Carolina and New England.

It uses microwave technology, which is recognized as the most reliable form of radio communication, and allows for up to 8 incident specific channels for first responders on the scene to communicate without interruption from other calls.

It also uses GIS mapping software to pinpoint more accurate dispatch locations, and offers military grade encryption capabilities to prevent criminals from being alerted to police activity. 

“The Freeholder Board’s number one priority is to make sure the residents, families and children of Camden County are safe.  When you call 911 it is imperative for the system to work and for first responders to have the ability to communicate with one another.  This new system has accomplished that goal,” Camden County Freeholder Scot McCray, liaison to the Camden County Department of Public Safety, said.  “The new Public Radio Communications System provides true interoperability for police, fire and EMS communications within Camden County and our surrounding region. First responders also have the ability to communicate with surrounding counties and the state using a regional repeater.”

He said the county freeholders and the public safety community worked together for nine years to put together the system and introduce it last year.

“The signal strength and clarity of the new system is unsurpassed.  The new radios work in areas that had previously posed problems to our public safety community,” McCray said.  “From the top of a Cherry Hill high-rise, inside a bank vault in Haddon Township and the middle of an orchard in Winslow, we experienced crystal clear communications.”

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