TAVARES — At a celebration today at Lake Tech’s Institute of Public Safety in Tavares, officials from 18 public safety agencies in Lake County applauded the introduction of a new countywide 800 MHz radio system that promises to improve communications between first responders.
For the first time the new 800 MHz radio system allows for the coordination of all Lake County’s emergency response services, including the Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Lake County Fire Rescue, Lake-Sumter EMS, Florida Highway Patrol and all local municipal police and fire departments.
“We’re here today not because of the people in this room,” said Gary Kaiser, Director of the Lake County Department of Public Safety, to an audience full of top ranking officials from local law enforcement agencies and fire departments. “It’s the boots on the ground — the firefighters, EMTs, police officers and animal-control officers — that are out in the community doing a dangerous job every day.”
The celebration was highlighted by a representative from each public-safety agency radioing into dispatch to say their department was on the air. The new 800 MHz radio system better equips all public safety personnel with the ability to communicate across all agencies and first responders in daily, as well as, crisis situations.
“The amazing thing about this to me is we have 14 municipal fire and police departments, the County, Lake-Sumter EMS and Florida Highway Patrol all on the same page, and that’s what we need to be celebrating today,” said Lake County Commissioner Welton Cadwell.
Added Sheriff Gary Borders, “Deputy sheriffs, police officers and public-safety responders — the safety of these individuals has improved tenfold today, and that’s what I am happy about.”
Upgrading the existing public safety radio system was no small feat, but it was accomplished under budget and on time. The system was expanded from six radio tower sites to 18. All handheld and vehicle-mounted radios needed to be replaced. In all, the Lake County Communications Technologies Division distributed and installed more than 3,000 radios to Lake County agencies, Florida Highway Patrol and the 14 police and fire municipalities.
“For my 10 years here in Lake County,” said Mount Dora Police Chief Randy Scoggins, “this is the single biggest public-safety improvement in Lake County.”