Madison County officials work to improve emergency communication

MADISON – Communication is always key when working with a team, but it is especially important in high pressure, life or death situations.

The Madison County Sheriff’s Department is proposing using a new radio system to better connect agencies across the county. With the proposal, officials in Madison, Newman Grove, Tilden, Meadow Grove, and Battle Creek would all have radios under county control – splitting the overall cost.

Sheriff Volk explains, “The cities themselves would pay an annual fee for maintenance, and then the monthly fee that goes to the state radio system, Madison County would pickup the rest…”

The equipment they currently use was purchased in the mid 2000’s and doesn’t allow for different departments to connect while working together. For example, this past Sunday Nebraska State Patrol, Norfolk Police, and the Madison County Sheriff’s Office all worked a 14 hour standoff in Norfolk – but struggled to be on the same page.

“We’re all on three systems, three separate systems. We weren’t able to talk to each other from a block and a half or two blocks away, however it worked out…we weren’t able to communicate with each other.”

The agencies had a similar experience during flooding, when State Patrol made a rescue, but was unable to tell the Madison County Sheriff’s office, who then entered dangerous flood waters trying to rescue a family that was no longer in danger. Sheriff Volk says that type of situation would be avoided with the new system.

“It basically brings us all together to where we can go to one emergency channel and everybody knows what’s going on…we can dispatch and have an instant command which runs all of us, and be able to communicate with all of us across.”

The proposal involves a deal with Motorola that would put Madison County onto the Statewide Radio System.

The County Commissioners are reviewing the proposal and could sign it as early as June 25th, when they meet next.

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