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Updated: 10/04/2013 06:23:44PM

HCSO announces radio frequency shift

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All first responder radios in Highlands County will switch today (Wednesday) from a UHF analog system to the new P-25 Digital 800 megahertz trunk system. The Federal Communications Commission has reserved 700 to 800 MHz bands for public safety to ensure critical communications can be carried on uninterrupted.

The new system will allow for complete radio communication with both Polk and Hardee counties, as well as between agencies within Highlands County. In addition, the new system will eliminate “dead spots” in the county which have been a problem for deputies and first responders alike. “As personnel travel around the county there will be seamless roaming for the signals from tower to tower, creating a larger range of communication and clearer levels of reception,” Sheriff Susan Benton said in a press release.

Most radio frequency scanners currently in the market are tuned to receive UHF analog signals. By switching to 800 MHz and its digital signals, radio traffic will not be picked up by conventional scanners.

“This new system will greatly improve the safety of our deputies, firefighters, and emergency medical folks,” Benton said. “Additionally, the system will provide for seamless transmissions greater distances throughout the State of Florida. Further, our ambulances will be able to communicate with the hospital emergency rooms from the scene rather than just before they arrive at the hospital. This could truly improve the level of treatment for our residents while enroute to the hospitals.”

Sheriff Benton extended her thanks to Motorola, county project manager Chris Benson, and all of the technicians at EMS, Fire and the Sheriff’s Office.

“A special and loud shout out goes to our dispatchers who again, without complaint, had to move from the new communications center to the Emergency Operations Center while this upgrade was taking place; they are amazing and never missed a beat in answering calls for help and then dispatching the help to you,” the sheriff concluded.