Sullivan County may soon take on a multimillion dollar project, a project that some say is vital to the emergency crews in the county.
The sound of radio communications can be heard in the fire department, EMS or police station. It's how emergency crews talk to one another, but leaders in Sullivan County say the county’s system is outdated and in dire need of replacement. "Our old system is now 13 years old. It could fail on us at any moment," says county commissioner Mark Bowery.
Volunteer firefighters in Sullivan County use the system to talk with 911 dispatchers. They can radio to other trucks and get vital information in an emergency. "We could not be able to function as efficiently without a radio system," says firefighter Josh Kemp.
The current system is analog. Many say it needs to be digital to keep up with technology, so Bowery is working on a new system. He's working to team up with the Tennessee Department of Safety by joining a state-wide radio system. "As we got elected a few years ago, we wanted to find ways to work smarter with the public's money. This is a really good test to that," adds Bowery.
If a contract is approved, the $6 million price tag would be split between Sullivan County, Bristol, Tennessee and Kingsport, as all emergency crews would use the new radio system.
If approved, building new towers could take up to one year to complete.
We're told a radio system upgrade on its own would cost Sullivan County about $7 million, versus the $6 million of going in with the state. By teaming up with the state, the county would not have to pay for upgrades or maintenance of the towers and system.