The state of communications for the police and fire departments in Londonderry was a hot topic at the Nov. 20 Town Council meeting.
Services Commander for the Londonderry Police Department, Chris Gandia and Battalion Chief for the Londonderry Fire Department, Mike McQuillen addressed the council with the goal to having better emergency communications in the town of Londonderry.
Currently, Rockingham County uses Motorola products for communication. The police and fire departments are currently looking for an equipment upgrade. However, Vice-Chairman, John Farrell pointed out that no matter which vendor they use for their equipment, they will not be able to solve the amount of dead spots in town. Dead spots are a matter of civil work that will need to be addressed at another time.
It is paramount that first responders have the best in cutting-edge technology. Motorola Solutions is the industry leader, but an alternative source for better communication might edge out the well-known brand.
Gandia also recognized that there needs to be a public awareness campaign, so taxpayers understand why this is a necessity for the police and fire departments to have this upgrade.
Recently, the police department has taken about 15 radio transmissions that represented the garbled communication where it has been difficult to communicate with the officers out on the road. The transmissions are also available on the town’s police department page along with a reference sheet that corresponds with the greater transmissions.
There have been multiple instances where an officer cannot respond back to dispatch because of transmission issues, including a motor vehicle accident, a cardiac arrest, and an overdose.
The average response time in Londonderry is seven minutes. John Farrell noted that improved communication will increase dispatch time to be even better. “If you’re communicating better, that seven minutes may become six. In the case of a defibrillator that may make all the difference,” Farrell said.
The inability to communicate clearly is a risk to public safety and first responders who may be in a dangerous situation. According to Gandia, over the course of three days, there were three separate issues with their radio communications.
Farrell also pointed out that a point of the public safety is the plowing of roads. The public works department does not currently have any ways to communicate. Giving them a means for better communication would be a help to the community.
The point reiterated at the end of the meeting was that the issue was bad radio transmissions and not dead zones. As important as the upgrade is, it will not be able to cure the dead zones, but Battalion Chief McQuillen said this upgrade will solve about 95% of their problems.