CHEROKEE COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – During an emergency, communication between emergency crews is key. In some spots in Cherokee County, that’s been a problem. A new 911 dispatcher radio system is going to fix that.

With the current radio system, first responders can’t communicate between departments.

“This is a first responder safety issue,” said Sheriff Steve Mueller. “It could be the difference between life and death.”

Everything has to get relayed to dispatch operators, but even that can be a problem depending on their location.

“We have literally been in homes and the officers are calling for additional assistance and the dispatchers can’t hear them,” said Miller.

If a responder is trying to communicate with dispatch but they’re in a dead spot, all the dispatchers hear is static.

“It could be dangerous to any responder, so if they’re inside of a home and they’re requesting back up, they may not be able to get to us,” said Deputy Director for Cherokee County 911, Brandon Peeler.

He said they have been working on getting a new system for two years.

On Monday, Cherokee County Council approved a $2.3 million project to update county radio systems. The project is being paid for with American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“They want to hear the responders; they’re dealing with life and death. So, we don’t need static, we don’t need dead spots, if they ask for help then we need to be able to give them help,” he said.

Mueller said a new radio system will help fix this problem.

“So, there’s a lot of features that are enhanced with these radios, that I think is going to really help. The biggest thing is that it gives us that interoperability with all first responders,” he said.

Firefighters will be able to talk to deputies, officers, or EMTs directly, and vice versa.

The new radios will allow the men and women in service to have coverage for about 95% of the county.

“At least with this new technology, we’re certainly able to mitigate a lot of the risk our first responders have been facing using the old technology,” said Mueller.

Peeler said the new providers for the system will help them identify and fix the dead zones.

The entire county is excited for an upgrade that has been needed for years and will help make sure all of their first responders make it home.

Mueller said they hope to have the entire system installed in 8 to 15 months.