MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) First responders in Mobile have new equipment they believe will help them save lives.
For the first time, every firefighter on duty has his or her own radio. Fire trucks and ambulances also have laptops that act as a GPS. Officials hope this will improve communication, as well as increase speed.
"We have new radios that we're putting out in the field for our firefighters and emergency responders. We're providing training for them so they can get comfortable using them," said MFD District Chief of Training, Kenneth Keller.
Thursday's training took place inside a 27,000 square foot building, in the dark with flashlights as guides.
"We're using this large building as a chance to go over different techniques for search and rescue or what they would do in the event of an emergency like if they got in there and ran out of air or got lost from their crews," said Keller.
It's the first time they're putting the new digital radios to the test, which are supposed to provide more clarity than the old analog ones.
"When you have your mask on, air pack, fire around you, sirens, communication is difficult. So we want to make sure that our clarity is there," said Keller.
Now firefighters can communicate directly with federal, state, county and volunteer departments. Before, radio communication was contained in the city.
In addition to the new radios every fire truck now has a new laptop. When firefighters get inside it tells them exactly where to go.
"The computers here are going to be able to give us a wealth of information that before we were only able to get over the radio. Now we're going to have it at our fingertips in terms of the type of run we're making. We also have function buttons for what our truck is doing at the time. For example, in route or waiting for EMS," said MFD Captain Jason Browne.
A moving map display not only guides firefighters to their destination, it tells them where the nearest hydrants are located. The purpose is to make first responders jobs faster and our lives safer.
A federal grant funded the laptops but the radios cost the city $8 million. Employees city-wide will use the radios.