W.Va. Plans for Statewide Interoperability

Three years ago Ohio County invested in one of the state's best emergency communications systems. In fact, the $1 million system in Ohio County is one of only three in the entire state.


"Interoperability, we learned that from 2001 when the New York Fire Department and New York Police Department really couldn't speak to each other," Lou Vargo, Ohio County EMA Deputy Director said. "When we decided in Ohio County to develop a new public radio system, we decided to be compatible with the state system. So, we're using the same bandwidth to become compatible."

Ohio County's system allows the counties police and fire departments, the county sheriff's office, and West Virginia and Ohio state officials to communicate over radios. Making Ohio County a perfect fit for one of West Virginia's statewide interoperability hubs.

Vargo added, "What we're doing now in April is with the three switches in Harrison County, Kanawha County, and our switch is we're trying to tie the three switches together. So, if we have a failure of any one of those three switches. Theoretically if something happened in Charleston, our Ohio County switch could take control of those radios and maintain communications."

Once Ohio County is wired to all of West Virginia, the next step will be to link up with counties in neighboring states.

Vargo said, "Our goal now is to tie the entire state radio system in Pennsylvania. So, the three systems can be tied together through our switch here in Wheeling."

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