City, county radios out, back after 2 days

Published 12:04 pm Thursday, December 9, 2010

Vicksburg and Warren County emergency services’ radio system was up and running late Wednesday after being down for two days.

“The backup system was able to service the community,” Vicksburg systems manager Bill Ford said, “and nobody was in any undue danger.”

The problem, he said, was a broken piece of antenna 350 feet off the ground at the Prime Site tower. For safety reasons, officials declined to specify the site.

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The backup system, purchased in the late 1990s, is effective, Ford said, just not as efficient, as the primary system.

“The backup is like using a typewriter as opposed to a laptop,” he said. “The typewriter will get the job done, but it would be a lot easier with a laptop.”

A concern, though common, he said, is dead spots, or areas where radio signals do not reach.

“There are actually areas that the backup system covered that the primary was unable to,” Ford said.

City technicians teamed up with Entergy and Westower Communications to temporarily solve the radio malfunction around 5 p.m. Wednesday. Entergy is lending an antennae until the parts necessary to fix the problem arrive.

“We were saved several days of troubleshooting,” Ford said,

“When we built the system in 1996,” Ford said, “we wanted to keep it completely isolated, so we put it four miles away from the primary system towers, so that in the event of a tornado or other emergency we would be covered.”

Warren County Sheriff Martin Pace said officers are aware of dead spots in radio coverage.

“Also, most officers carry cell phones these days, so if they need to get in contact, they are able to do so,” he said.