From our News Partners at WCBD-TV

   Dorchester County officials are working to upgrade their emergency radio systems from analog to digital. It’s a federal effort called P-25 compliance.

 The migration will allow the county to have the ability to talk to other counties and public safety officials, during a large scale disaster like a hurricane.

 Dorchester County emergency officials say that over 80% of South Carolina emergency agencies use the 800 megahertz system and in a natural disaster, it’s crucial.

 Mario Formisano, Director of Emergency Management for Dorchester County says, “If we don’t make the migration to P25, then our existing system will not be compatible with the Palmetto 800 megahertz system.”

simply put.. communications would drop between fire, police, dispatch in dorchester and in other neighboring counties.. during a major hurricane, earthquake, even a car accident.

 Officials say, in a disaster, interoperability between agencies is crucial and officials say it doesn’t always happen.

“You can go back and look at documented large scale events involving Katrina, 9/11, some of these high profile natural and man made disasters and interoperable communications is on the list of deficiencies every time.”

It’s an expensive undertaking in a county that has a lot of agencies pulling at their coat tails for budget money.

 The County will spend almost $800,000 on portable radios, vehicle radios and dispatch consoles.

 Dorchester and Berkeley County officials tell News 2, they hope to have their radio systems upgraded by the end of 2015

 Charleston County has been P25 compliant since 2007.

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