First-Responders' Radios have "Dead Areas"

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An official with Nevada Department of Public Safety says some first-responders' radios have "dead areas" in parts of the Silver State.

Sgt. Brad Smith, the Department of Public Safety sergeant assigned to the Nevada Highway Patrol, said mountainous terrain makes radio communications difficult in some areas.

"They're still in the process of trying to build out several sites in order to make the radio system work so there's a lot of dead areas," Smith said.

Smith said mobile units with different agencies can also have difficulty communicating directly with each other. An official with the Nevada Department of Transportation, which helps maintain radio transmitters, said some agencies use different radio systems -- which can sometimes make inter-agency communication difficult. Messages can be relayed, such as through a dispatcher, but that can take longer. Public Safety said during an emergency, timely communication is very important.

"If your family was to crash in an area and we needed to get a ambulance there in a timely manner, that's a life and death situation to every member of the public," Smith said.

According to a transcript of what Governor Gibbons planned to say in his "State of the State" address, he hopes to work with lawmakers to improve communication for first-responders. "The 9/11 Commission made many recommendations to promote the security of the nation. One of its findings concluded that the nation and the states are vulnerable because public safety responders cannot communicate as one entity in a time of crisis," the transcript stated.

Officials said Nevada's current radio system cost about $25 million.