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Grants to boost emergency communication
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MONROE - Green County Emergency Response System and New Glarus emergency personnel were awarded over $9,500 in grants to buy new radios that are enhanced with mutual-aid channel capacity.The Office of Justice Assistance awarded the grants to help ensure that the various public safety agencies in Wisconsin have access to "common mutual aid channels during an emergency or crisis," according to a statement from the office.Shared mutual-aid channels allow for reliable communications between several emergency-response agencies across jurisdictional lines during critical times, such as a large-scale disasters, officials say.The radio equipment grants are funded by the Dept. of Homeland Security.Grant County EMS received over $5,000 to update its radios, while The Village of New Glarus received over $4,000.Wisconsin officials are hoping that, by replacing the outdated radio equipment, communications will improve between various emergency agencies throughout the state. Further, officials said, the grants are viewed as a stepping stone toward implementation of a statewide interoperability communications plan.The Wisconsin Interoperability System for Communication program is set to launch by July 2011, and will provide 95 percent mobile radio coverage across the state.WISCOM provides emergency responders with better real-time communications capacity that reduces channel congestion and limits wait time for calls.More than 185 local emergency response agencies in 52 Wisconsin counties were award the grants, totaling $2.6 million.Currently, according to the statement, some of the local agencies assisting in the testing and optimization of WISCOM, include the Milwaukee County Emergency Management/Amateur Radio Services and the Dane County Emergency Managment/Emergency Operations Center.

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