Allegan County looks to improve emergency response

Updated: Monday, February 25 2013, 06:07 PM EST
Allegan County looks to improve emergency response  story image
ALLEGAN COUNTY, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) – Firefighters in Allegan County are looking to provide better service when an emergency strikes.

Firefighters in Allegan County respond to incidents when their pagers are activated by 911 dispatch, but the pager transmissions only go so far.

The county’s rural areas and hilly landscapes leave gaps in coverage which have caused problems in the past, but now county leaders are working to close those gaps.

An outside company has been testing the radio signals in Allegan County for some time and determined problem areas exist in Holland and another near Wayland.

Now county leaders are hopeful increasing service to the towers will eliminate the problem.

Allegan County dispatch relies on radio signals to alert first responders to a fire on their pagers.

“These firefighters work out in the community, those pagers need to be activated to let them know there is a call,” said Jan Goswick, Central Dispatch Director. “That’s the only way they get the message to say there is something they need to respond to.”

Working with 20 departments, coverage is better in some areas than others.

“We do have some beautiful landscapes, but they can certainly be challenging for providing coverage,” said County Administrator Rob Sarro. “”That’s the whole goal of this project, to fill in those gaps.”

Now, after two years of radio testing the county is hoping that boosting tower service in Laketown Township where Graafshap has had trouble and also in Wayland, will increase response times in problem areas and countywide.

“We expect to see a big difference in this proposal,” said Sarro. “We should see a minimum of 95 percent area coverage.”

The $340,000 project will be funding by a pool of money already set aside in previous years. Leaders are optimistic that it will help eliminate the need for extra response from outside departments.

“It’s impossible to get 100 percent coverage throughout a county,” said Sarro. “We strive to get the best coverage we can so they can get those pages and respond to an emergency.”

The county commission is expected to approve the plan in its meeting on Thursday. Some of the changes will go into effect immediately with the full project in place in the next three months.

Allegan County looks to improve emergency response
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