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New radio system streamlines county operations

Wadena County's new radio system allows for more partnering with other agencies on multiple talk groups.

Wadena County's new dispatch console is working well and made it through its first "major event."

Wadena County Emergency Management director Luke Manderscheid said the new dispatch radio console was up and running March 9.

The first major event to test out the capability of the new radio system was the fire two weekends ago near Aldrich, he said. Several agencies responded to the fire, wh

Wadena County switched to the allied radio matrix emergency response (ARMER) system in 2011.

"This dispatch console was probably something we should have updated at that time," Manderscheid said. "The console worked but it couldn't do everything that the system was designed to do."

Essentially, there were eight talk groups available for deputies and dispatch to work with, he said.

With the new radio system, a Motorola MCC 7500, there are seemingly endless talk groups available. On just one screen there are nearly 20 talk groups and there are several screens, Manderscheid said.

"Now we can do everything we need to get done," he said. "The problem we ran into with the old system was patching. We could only patch two talk groups together."

With the new system, three channels can be patched together right off the bat. It's also more user friendly than the old system.

With the old system there were two dispatch systems. Now there are three. One is now available to be used as a deployable resource for an Emergency Operations Center (EOC), Manderscheid said.

"In the event of another tornado or anything like that, we can deploy a dispatcher into our EOC," he said. "We could essentially have a third dispatcher operating and nobody would know anything different."

The county's 911 lines are now backed up through the EOC so if something happens to the dispatch center it could move to the Emergency Operations Center, Manderscheid said.

Each dispatcher had an eight hour class to learn the new radio system.

It performed very well during the Aldrich fire, he said.

"There's bells and whistles on this that can actually elevate the radios that are out there," Manderscheid said. "When each talk group comes into the tower, they are ranked on their priority level. Our dispatch can elevate the priority level by one in a larger event."

Very soon every county will have this system, he said.

"This will essentially alleviate the problem of having to rely on Otter Tail or others to do the patching. Now we won't have to do that," Manderscheid said.

The system cost about $300,000 and was approved by the Wadena County Board.

"It was something that was drastically needed," he said.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561
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