Emergency crews throughout Erie County are getting a long awaited update to their radio systems. All emergency crews in the county will be equipped with a new radio system that allows them to communicate with other agencies who might also be responding. Before, crews from different townships were unable to communicate directly.

Emergency crews have been asking for this change for decades, and now it's almost a reality. "There were people who came to me and said, 'You're never going to get this done, people have promised us this for 30 years,' and we did get it done," Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper said.

The Erie County Radio Project started almost four years ago and is now nearly completed. The new system will be ran for 30 days to see if any problems arise that need fixed. After that, training with the new system will begin for emergency responders and the new system is expected to be fully operational by the end of the first quarter of 2019.

"When there's an incident happening, no matter who it is, it's out there to help them save the lives of you or your loved one," Dahlkemper said, "they're going to be able to talk to whoever they need to talk to, to get to you quickly and to hopefully save your life or the one that you love. That's what this is all really about - saving lives."

The new system equipment was mostly paid for by the county and if individual departments wanted more radios, they were able to purchase them at a discounted rate. "Each truck got a mobile radio, that's one in the truck, and then per seat they get a portable radio. We did that across for firetrucks, police cars and ambulances," MCM Consulting Group Inc. President Michael McGrady said. MCM Consulting Group Inc. are the consultants for the Erie County Radio Project.

The project was projected to cost about $26.5 million, but as they are nearing the last phases the project is about $2 million under budget. Crews will be finishing the installments on the last of 22 sites and will soon begin testing and tuning the communication towers.