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"Wheels are turning" for Gallatin County radio project to improve 911 communications

Posted at 8:18 AM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 10:18:28-05

GALLATIN COUNTY — Gallatin County’s 911 director says the wheels are turning when it comes to the county’s radio project, something that’s been in the works for awhile, with improvements to come thanks to Gallatin County voters.

“With updated technology, it’s gonna allow us to do things we’ve only dreamed about doing before with our radio system,” said 911 Director Tim Martindale.

Martindale says the county’s radio and communication system will see some major technological improvements.

Gallatin County commissioners approved a change order on Tuesday morning that will rework the current system’s infrastructure, and bring it up-to date with today’s needs.

Gallatin County voters approved the 911 mill levy last June, which will continue to help fund the project.

Martindale says it’s about improving communication.

“Looking outside of the city of Bozeman, looking out in the county, there’s a lot of times where our deputies or our fire and EMS departments are responding with one or two man units. And we’re their life line,” said Martindale. “911's their lifeline.”

Bozeman Fire Department’s fire chief has been heavily involved in the radio project.

He says the city has already updated their radio technology, which has helped reduce noise interference and improved building penetration.

“For responders, it’s a safety issue. Making sure that responders in buildings can communicate with incident commanders outside, making sure that we can communicate with our dispatch center, making sure we can communicate with our neighbors,” said Chief Josh Waldo.

Now it’s about expanding that out to Belgrade, Three Forks, Big Sky and West Yellowstone.

“So that’s where we’ll see a lot of the payoff is better coverage. Where there’s already coverage, it’s going to be clear, it’s going to be more effective and it’s going to expand that coverage to areas that’s never had coverage before,” said Martindale.

"Knowing that we can work with anybody in this county to mitigate an emergency and we’re not limited by our radio and our technology, just takes that off the plate so we can focus on the task at hand,” added Chief Waldo.

On Tuesday morning, Gallatin County Commissioners also approved the construction of a radio tower in West Yellowstone, which allows Gallatin County’s 911 Dispatch Center to have a direct connection with the town of West Yellowstone’s dispatch center.