In recognition of our 25th anniversary in 2018, Friends of the Smokies will fund a critical radio system upgrade in GSMNP. The total cost of the project is $2.5 million. Federal funding sources and other grants will be used to match donations to Friends of the Smokies dollar for dollar to reach the total cost.
The radio communications system currently used in the park has exceeded its recommended maximum lifespan. Replacement parts are difficult to come by and repairs and maintenance are costly. The proposed project will replace microwave and repeater equipment at nine radio tower sites around the park as well as portable radio units in patrol vehicles and fire engines. This will allow park rangers and emergency dispatch to directly communicate with police, fire, and emergency services in jurisdictions outside park boundaries. This also includes an all-new Computer Aided Dispatch system which allows dispatchers to prioritize and record emergency calls and locate first responders in the field.
Steve Kloster, Chief Ranger said, “These new radios will allow the park service to make the best use of its resources in any emergency situation. The ability to communicate with different agencies in the field can make all the difference in a life-threatening situation where every second counts.”
“A new radio system is absolutely vital for responding to emergencies quickly and effectively, preserving the cultural and natural resources of this park, and protecting our visitors and law enforcement rangers,” Superintendent Cassius Cash added.
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