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GEMA grant to help upgrade emergency services radio system
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Rockdale’s Emergency Services department may finally be able to start upgrading some of its communication systems, which had been described as "antiquated," thanks in part to a recently awarded $556,000 grant from the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

Emergency Services Director John McNeil said the estimated total cost of an upgrade would be about $6 million.

"The good news is the county will be able to begin some of this planned migration in 2010 with funding from the 911 tower and a $566,000 grant we’ve just been awarded from GEMA," he said at the a public forum organized by the Home Owners for Better Government on Thursday.

The migration would begin with specific components, said McNeil, such as the microwave system.

"The 911 tower funds would also allow the replacement of the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system in 2010. "The new system will be user friendly and significantly more efficient," he said.

"In today’s day and age, communications is vital to responding to emergencies and having interoperability in talking to each other," McNeil said in previous interviews.

"The radio system is antiquated, the CAD (computer aided dispatch) system is adequate but not really meeting a lot of needs and then you got the phone system; that’s fine, that’s current," said McNeil.

He described the current radio equipment as being so outdated that, "When we do have technical problems and something happens when we need a part, we need to cannibalize parts from an old radio system. There’s not parts available any more."