HANOVER TOWNSHIP, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Mission accomplished, as Luzerne County 911 has a new digital radio system in place. A project that’s been decades in the making is now fully operational. But what does this mean for county residents and first responders?

The bottom line is that officials and first responders Eyewitness News spoke with all over Luzerne County say this new digital system will help save lives in emergency situations.

The new Luzerne County 911 digital radio system will replace what has been described as a patch-quilt system of radio frequencies and zones, combining them into one direct radio dispatch system.

“Interoperation ability in a state-of-the-art digital radio system. The system replaces a 25-year-old. So we’re very glad to be able to provide this system,” said Fred Rosencrans Executive Director of Luzerne County 911.

Fred Rosencrans is the Executive Director of Luzerne County 911. He says the old analog system provides communication challenges for some first responders.

“With technology, it’s great when it’s working right. There are always little glitches that can happen. Like we’re cleaning up some programming issues, getting some radio’s still put out to local EMA coordinators. We’re glad that it’s here finally bringing this project to a close,” Rosencrans continued.

The Hazleton area has been a known radio dispatch trouble spot for years. That has now changed. In fact, Fire Chief Don Leshko says the new system made a difference in a call today at a senior citizen high-rise apartment building.

“High rises have always been a notorious issue for us. You know when you’re standing in the lobby at the fire panel and try to talk to the firefighters on the floors? In the old system, we just couldn’t do it. Today for the first time I was able to actually stand at the fire panel and communicate with the guys on the floors with no issues, crystal clear communications,” stated
Chief Don Leshko of The Hazleton City Fire Department.

Leshko says the old radio system in often cases, made responding to a large-scale emergency, a big challenge.

“You’re all crammed on one channel trying to talk over everybody. You had EMS, fire on one channel. It was a safety hazard but the bottom line was you had to do the job with what you had,” added Chief Don Leshko Hazleton City Fire Department.

The new radio system cost about $23 million It was phased in gradually and went into operation 100 percent Wednesday.