Lee County’s emergency communications system gets a $14 million upgrade

Published: February 18, 2021 5:23 PM EST
Updated: February 18, 2021 6:23 PM EST

Hurricane Irma revealed flaws in Lee County’s emergency system.

But now those flaws have been fixed. In case of emergency or disaster,  first responders can now be sure they’ll hear each other on their radios.

Crews spent Thursday installing a tower shelter to protect Lee County’s new emergency communications system.

The $14 million project will triple the capacity of emergency communications, improve radio workability between first responders and provide storm resilience in the case of a major storm.

The project began after Hurricane Irma showed the previous communication system couldn’t handle the number of calls from first responders reporting floods and building damages.

“Every sheriff’s deputy, every law enforcement officer, every paramedic, EMT, fire, the radio said they carry that communication goes across this network,” said Benjamin Abes, director of Lee County Public Safety.

During the 2017 hurricane, when first responders got on the road and started to call in incidents, it overwhelmed the system, Abes said.

“We had to do some very quick on the fly adjustments to be able to keep the network up and running,” he said.

Robert Brandt has lived in Southwest Florida for 30 years and has survived his share of hurricanes. He’s happy to know first responders are getting ready for the next one, because he is, too.

“I’m prepared,” Brandt said. “My family is ready to go if it comes down to it.”

“We’re ready for what’s going to come next whether it’s a hurricane, whether it’s a natural disaster, we’re ready for all of the scenarios,” Abes said.

Now that the system is in place, Lee County plans to test it over the next couple of months.