A new one is on the way but not soon enough to ease the communication concerns.
Work is underway at the Thomaston Police Department to install a new state-of-the-art radio communications system.
Emergency responders said the existing system, implemented in 1972, has been an issue for years, and he town’s police and fire chiefs both say it’s getting worse.
Police Chief James Campbell said the tones that notify volunteer firefighters and EMTs about emergency calls aren’t reliable, so they’re using alternatives in a pinch.
“Nobody’s in real harm’s way because, although it may not be the perfect system, we are getting these calls out,” Campbell said.
He explained that officers have also run into problems using portable radios to call for backup and convey information about suspects, and firefighters haven’t heard warnings to get out of burning buildings.
Dispatchers have resorted to communicating with officers, firefighters and ambulance crews via cellphone – either by talking or texting – to make sure emergencies are properly covered.
“You would think in this day and age, in 2014, that we wouldn’t have to really look at some other avenue to notify our public safety personnel, but right now we have to,” Campbell said.
The new system costs $3.7 million. Instead of the current single tower, the new system will have four, with radio coverage reaching 95 percent of the town.
While there has been some controversy over where the towers will be located, most say the new system is money well spent.
It should be online by the end of June.