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Concerns for safety still surround radio communication in Summers County

SUMMERS COUNTY (WVVA) Communication between 911 centers and first responders is critical during emergency situations. Summers County is still facing this problem with communication systems that don’t work in certain parts of the county.

Summers County Sheriff Garry Wheeler says this has been an on-going discussion since 2001. During Wednesday’s county commission meeting, many emergency personnel expressed concerns about the safety of fellow first responders and the communities they serve.

“Right now we’re pretty much stuck and we have to rely on 911 making calls,” says Sheriff Wheeler. He says even in certain buildings, officers inside can’t use their radios and have to use cell phones to get in touch with those on the outside.

Summers County is one of two counties in West Virginia that does not operate on a digital radio system. This brings major concern because communication is non-existent in some areas of the county.

County Commissioner President Jack David Woodrum says the commission is working to determine the cause in the deficiencies and improve them. “Ideally we’d like to have one great big change to be able to switch us to a new system,” says Woodrum.

He says the cost of a change to that extent is unknown, which is also another issue. He says there’s a lot of information the commission doesn’t have, making it difficult to fix the problem.

This discussion will continue at the next county commission meeting on September 11, 2019.

Ashley Smith

Multimedia Journalist

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