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Iowaco fire

A Lifesaving First Step for an Entire County

January 7, 2016

Imagine your life depending on emergency communications systems that may or may not work. Your life could be saved by information relayed from first responders to the ambulance in route, but minutes are lost because of a communication glitch.

"The Federal Communications Commission put a narrowbanding mandate into place in 2012, which has affected our ability to communicate well in Iowa County," said Sally Hall, Iowa County E911 coordinator. "It is critical that we have the communication to dispatch emergency services and to be able to communicate with responding agencies in the field. There are times we are not able to do that, and not being able to relay patient information can be detrimental."

To overcome this challenge and make sure critical communication is reliable, the Iowa County E911 Service Board has taken the initial step to better communications for all emergency response teams in Iowa County through the completion of a comprehensive communication study of their land mobile radio system. This undertaking was made possible in large part by a $25,125 grant from the Iowa County Community Foundation, a CFNEIA affiliate.

"We are talking a huge, ongoing project, but this gave us our start," Sally said. "If it hadn't been for the grant money we still wouldn't have our study done. This initial study is also a critical piece to future funding for the completion of the overall project."

Over 16,000 children and adults have a stake in the success of this project, and that is just the county's residents. Iowa County is also home to two of Iowa's most continually visited tourist attractions, the Amana Colonies and Tanger Outlet Mall, and Interstate 80 runs directly through the county. The total potential life-saving impact this project will have is nearly immeasurable.

"It's impacting every citizen that lives in Iowa County and every citizen passing through Iowa County. This will impact every person from infant to 100 years old," Sally said. "There is potential that each one of those persons could need emergency services of some type at one time or another."