Grant will cover replacement of outdated dispatch equipment

BERRIEN COUNTY, Ind. -- First responders in Berrien County's dispatch center don't have the state of the art equipment they need to do their jobs. Thanks to a new grant, the outdated equipment is going to be replaced.

"Our dispatchers are the initial incident commanders on every call and it's their responsibility to make sure that called gets off on the right foot,” said Niles Fire Chief Larry Lamb.

Lamb says it is a tough job for Berrien County dispatchers who work with obsolete equipment.

"They have to communicate with up to 50 agencies on a multitude of different frequencies and different channels and they have to select that on-the-fly really quickly,” said Lamb.

Close to $1 million in state-of-the-art equipment will soon be on the way for both of the county’s dispatch centers thanks to a federal grant the fire department just received.

"We will put our consoles basically together. We can see their resources and they can see ours. And we can work together as a whole to mitigate whatever kind of situation might be occurring,” said David Agens, 911 Director Berrien County.

"We recently replaced our field units and this will kind of compliment that whole thing,” said Lamb.

The money will replace eight outdated communication consoles at the county's dispatch center in Benton Township and four communication consoles at the Niles Police complex which also serves as the backup center for the county.

Resident Bill Smoke hopes the new equipment will speed up emergency response times, which is the goal in the business of saving lives and homes.

"It was just a few years ago during the summer and hear my big pole barn 25-foot by 40-foot was ablaze. It took them about half an hour to get to that fire site. It was a total loss,” said Smoke.

They will begin installation right away and hope to have the new equipment in place by the end of the year.

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