Johnson County Council approves alternate radio system for first responders

FRANKLIN, Ind. – When seconds count during emergency responses, Johnson County is making sure its first responders and dispatchers are able to communicate clearly.

The Johnson County Council unanimously approved a radio system Monday night that can be used as both an alternate and backup system.

"It's kind of priceless to me to have that system," Ryan Sheridan said.

In April, Sheridan's home caught fire when lightning struck it. While he and his family lost their belongings, first responders said they lost communication with dispatchers when a tower went down. They had to find an alternate way to stay in touch.

"We plan for situations like that, at the same time we need to recognize that it can potentially happen and it did and look at ways that we can either keep it from happening or come up with a good contingency plan so it doesn't affect services, which in this case it doesn't," White River Township Fire Chief Jeremy Pell said.

Now they'll have another radio system to utilize. The Johnson County 911 director said the radio system can be used if the system is overloaded, for instance during a snow storm, is not getting good coverage or if it goes down.

"We have systems for when it comes to our CAD systems, our computer dispatch system, our phone, we have backup systems for that," 911 director Heath Brant said. "What we are lacking is a backup system for the radio communication piece so this really is the last piece to have a completely redundant system."

Brant said the funding comes from state money appropriated to Johnson County.

It's a system Pell welcomes. He too is looking toward the future.

The council also approved an appropriation to help replace his department's headquarters, which is being displaced due to a construction project. At the same time, Pell is looking for ways to get more boots on the ground as the area grows.

"We have 17 firefighters plus four EMS personnel and that's enough to handle a house fire, no more, no less," Pell said.

The council also approved a bond issuance for Bargersville fire to help replace, in part, an ambulance, battalion vehicle and radio equipment.

Meanwhile, Sheridan said firefighters did a great job at his home. Now he and his family are waiting for the house to be torn down and rebuilt.

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