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Emergency responders get on the same frequency

Soon Albany County first responders will be on the same frequency.

More often than police, fire fighters and paramedics would like to see, the scene of an accident, fire or crime is often clouded with the chatter of dozens of radios tuned into different channels.

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been dolling out money to help emergency services across the country be able to communicate on the same frequency.

Albany County's solution is the Emergency Service Interoperability Radio System (ESIRS). Through a $1.7 million grant, the county has been reworking communication systems among all local and state agencies within the county.

New radios and equipment have been made available to agencies so that a single command and control frequency, can be used among all emergency responders in the county, said Albany County Sheriff James Campbell.

The sheriff's department has been working through a consultant to get the system online.

"Let's say you're at a multi agency response. Instead of a radio on every car, there will be one frequency. It will certainly improve emergency response and improve communication among first responders," said Campbell.

The new system is similar to its predecessor the Capital District Emergency Radio Network. That network had a shared frequency for the command posts and communications officers of the state and local agencies linked to the system. Some agencies, like Colonie police, will keep that structure in place, while others will have car-to-car communications available.

The sheer size of Colonie's police, fire and paramedic fleets, in addition to the number of radios that would need to be equipped, made using the old command structure under the new system the ideal choice, said Police Chief Steven Heider.

'We want to make sure that our communications people are involved. They are at the center of everything. They can look at a map and see where each of our cars our," said Heider.

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