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$80 Million Emergency Radio System Will Keep Prince George's EMS Safer

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By Mana Rabiee

Prince George's County first responders have a new emergency communications system that uses airwaves left open after the digital TV conversion. It's intended to make their jobs a little bit safer.

At a 911 dispatch center in Hyattsville, Maryland, County Homeland Security Director Vernnon Herron stands before a crowd of uniformed first responders.

"I know that, when you get up in the morning and you put that uniform on and you go to your assignment, there are no guarantees that you'll arrive home safely -- it is not like the movies," Herron says.

Herron's announcing the new $80 million system which will among other things remove what he calls "dead spots" where first responders lose all radio contact.

Police Corporal Nicholas Zook says the new system will make him more efficient -- but there's more to it than that.

"It was definitely an officer safety issue. It's great now, I mean, hopefully it's a lot safer," Zook says.

The system includes enhanced GPS features to locate the nearest first responders in emergencies and makes it more difficult for unauthorized people to listen in on EMS radio chatter.

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