EMA director requests more radios for seven municipalities within Panola County 1/14/2014

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 14, 2014

EMA director requests more radios for seven municipalities within Panola County

By Rupert Howell
Panola County’s Emergency Management Coordinator Daniel Cole asked the county board of supervisors to consider the purchase of additional radios for the county’s seven municipalities at Monday’s meeting in Batesville.

Panola County’s E-911 board, a board consisting of representatives from Panola’s municipalities and emergency agencies that make recommendations and policy for E-911 funds and emergency communications, had asked Cole to address the board after it became apparent that all emergency agencies weren’t connected. That board met last Thursday to discuss issues between government entities and agencies.

During a recent multi-jurisdictional crime spree and during a weather emergency, county and municipal officials learned that they were not communicating with other emergency responders although reception was excellent throughout the county for those with the county’s new radio system.

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Panola County recently purchased radios to the tune of approximately $600,000 for county departments including sheriff, solid waste and road as well as rural fire departments. Those radios are compatible with the state-wide emergency network but most of Panola’s municipalities’ radios cannot communicate with the new radio system.

The city of Batesville is the only municipality that does not use county-wide dispatch, choosing to use their own stand alone dispatch.

All other municipalities as well as the sheriff’s department, rural fire districts and emergency agencies use the centralized dispatch system. Those municipalities are charged a fee, fees that Cole has now been asked to return to the E-911 board to ask for re-negotiation.

Those municipalities with the county-wide system gave up dispatching duties gaining savings by not having to employ dispatchers to man their individual dispatch consoles.

In return those municipalities were asked to pay a fee to help operate the centralized dispatch.
It was originally agreed that radios would be purchased by the county and the E-911 board would purchase dispatch consoles from E-911 funds.

Those control consoles have been approved and ordered Cole told supervisors Monday.
Cole said expediency was necessary with the radio decision as prices were not guaranteed after March 1.