PICKENS COUNTY, S.C. (WSPA) – Pickens County will buy a $10.3 million radio system to allow its emergency responders to communicate with one another.

The Pickens County Council unanimously approved a request from the county Monday to spend $10,366,737 on a high frequency radio system.

The system will eliminate difficulties law enforcement, fire and EMS services have had while operating in the county.

“You could say at any of our schools, as we stand right now, if EMS, fire or police respond, they can’t talk to each other,” Ken Roper, the county administrator, said. “They have to go back to dispatch.”

“Getting us all on one common platform where our radios are able to talk to each other will not only enhance our responders’ safety, but that will in turn enhance our safety to our citizens,” Billy Gibson, the county’s director of emergency services, said.

10 new towers will be installed throughout Pickens County to provide the best coverage.

Once they are in place, Pickens County will also be able to communicate with first responders in surrounding counties

“We’ll be able to talk to each other on a common radio system because we’ll be on a common frequency,” Gibson said. 

The county is hopeful this system will help their crews respond to emergencies more effectively and efficiently. 

“In any type of public safety aspect, no matter if we’re responding to a fire or law enforcement incident, those few minutes and seconds can make a huge difference,” Gibson said.

The radio system is being funded by money the county received from the American Rescue Plan. The county received about $20 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan.

Board members debated holding off on a decision until they learned more about the options the county had in upgrading its radio system. According to minutes from a committee that recommended the high frequency system, Pickens County received bids from five vendors.

Gibson said the county hopes to have the new radio system implemented in 12 to 18 months.