CALAMUS — Fire chiefs, emergency medical technicians and ambulance representatives from communities in the western end of Clinton County gathered Monday night to voice concerns about communication problems during emergency situations.
Even Monday night’s storms did not keep almost two dozen people from attending the special meeting of the Board of Supervisors in the Calamus fire station. Chairwoman Jill Davisson explained the board decided to hold the special meeting to hear more about the problems the fire departments are facing and consider possible solutions.
“Actually, it is a commission that oversees communications, so we only have so much power,” said Davisson, adding that the Supervisors will try to help however they can.
Emergency personnel at the meeting agreed the problem is that the two communications towers in the county — located in Clinton and DeWitt — do not allow firefighters and ambulance crews in western communities, such as Grand Mound, Wheatland and Calamus, to contact the law center in Clinton.
Calamus Fire Chief Mike Lacey told the board and other county representatives about a timber fire at Sherman Park Refuge where firefighters were not even able to communicate with each other.
Wheatland Fire Chief Pat Steward has placed two radios in the same room and could not hear one on the other. He added that his hand-held radios cannot reach the law center.
“I can reach Scott County and Cedar County, but I can’t reach Clinton County,” Steward said. He added he finds that to be a sad statement.
Wheatland Ambulance Director Andrea Werner expressed frustration that it seems to the western side of the county that nothing is being done to improve communications. She said nothing has been added or updated to the communications system in years.
The discussion of potential fixes included getting more repeaters for emergency vehicles, building an entire tower or putting repeaters on community water towers. Communications Director Eric Dau said as a volunteer firefighter himself, he wants to get this problem fixed. He attributed some of the problem to delays in a Department of Transportation tower project, which he thinks could potentially solve some of the problems.