LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) — When it comes to responding to emergency calls in rural areas, communication is key.
In Nebraska, only 27 of the more than 400 rural fire and ambulance services have radios that can connect to the Statewide Radio System.
“Proper communication will often make or break the success or failure of a call,” said Lt. Aaron Hofeling of Eagle Fire & Rescue. “If we don’t have our departments, our trucks, our staff equipped with the appropriate communications, we’re just setting ourselves up for failure.”
That’s why Senator Tom Brewer is sponsoring House Bill 511. It would allocate $26 million to address the shortage of portable radios.
Rural districts like Eagle’s support the measure.
“This bill would allow the upgrade of two portable radios and two truck radios to basically operate outside of the Nebraska State Radio System,” Hofeling said.
According to a memorandum of the Finance Act, the total expenditure per department for this equipment estimated at $52,000.
Eagle Fire & Rescue said it has radios that are 18 years old and were donated by a law enforcement agency.
The department said many of these radios are outdated and do not have access to the Statewide Radio System.
Hofeling said that during last year’s wildfires, one of the main problems was radio communication.
“Everyone comes from different parts of the state and everyone works on different frequencies,” Hofeling said.
LB 511 was considered in the Appropriations Committee last week. No one spoke in opposition.