The communication capabilities of emergency responders in Clay County will soon be improving.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) awarded more than $968 million in grant money across the country as part of the Public Safety Interoperable Communications (PSIC) Grant Program in September 2007.
"Clay County received $169,272.51 from the grant and we are using it to upgrade our radio systems," Clay County Emergency Management Director Bryan Husband said. "It will allow us to purchase radios with capabilities to handle the 700 and 800 MHz bands."
Husband explained the grant money was made available to purchase portable radios for emergency responders, but he worked hard to adjust how he could spend the money.
"I could have bought 74 portable radios, but about half of them would have been sitting in my office not being used," he said. "So I e-mailed the Planning Division of the DHS and was given permission to use part of the grant on mile radios we can install into vehicles.
In total, Clay County will be purchasing 32 mobile radios and 34 portable radios with the grant money.
Husband said a main reason for the need of mobile radios were because there are various "dead spots" throughout Clay County where the portable radios are unable to stay in contact with the towers.
"There are areas in every county where the portable radios won't reach," Husband told The Brazil Times. "Having the mobiles gives us the opportunity to have better communication and coverage in outlying areas."
Another need for the mobiles were to improve the communication ability of emergency responders with dispatchers.
"Right now there is only one radio in dispatch and they have to switch channels constantly," Husband said. "It will get the dispatch centers the ability to talk and the communication as a whole will be improved."
Husband also told The Brazil Times there is the potential more grant money could come next year.
Breakdown on how, according to Clay County Emergency Management Director Bryan Husband, the majority of the 32 mobile and 34 portable radios will be distributed:
* Brazil City Police and Fire departments -- strictly portables, one per officer,
* Clay County Sheriff's Department -- six mobiles,
* Staunton, Knightsville and Carbon Town Marshal's -- one portable and one mobile each,
* Clay City Police -- one portable,
* CCSD Reserves -- one portable,
* Clay County Search and Rescue -- one mobile, and
* All other fire departments -- two mobiles and two portables for each department.