Radio tower lightning strike affects first responders - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Radio tower lightning strike affects first responders

The county's old VHF radio system will be used as a back up when needed. The county's old VHF radio system will be used as a back up when needed.
The 400 foot tower for Lee County's digital 800 mhz frequency radio system took a direct lightning strike July 3rd. The 400 foot tower for Lee County's digital 800 mhz frequency radio system took a direct lightning strike July 3rd.
The top of the radio tower in Lee County. The top of the radio tower in Lee County.
LEESBURG, GA (WALB) -

Lee County first responders have been working through radio issues after the county's radio tower was struck by lightning, and the repair is still underway.

Lee County Sheriff's Deputy Ahmad Key radios his location to headquarters on a regular basis. It's a vital safety measure for first responders to keep them safe, but something they had to double check this week because of radio issues.

"[It's] a concern of mine and everybody is worrying about how to operate without the radio system," said Lee County Sheriff Reggie Rachals.

The 400 foot tower for Lee County's digital 800 mhz frequency radio system took a direct lightning strike July 3rd.

"It did not knock it out completely, but it does affect the range at times," said Lee County 911 Coordinator Larry Hill.

Officials ordered a new part to repair the system.

Afternoon storms have been the biggest disruption problem for the system, making Wednesday afternoon's storm response even more stressful.

"Everybody's on board, professional as they are from the sheriff's office, public works, fire department, EMS. Everybody's jumping on board and doing the professional thing," Rachals said.

The county's old VHF radio system will be used as a back up when needed.

"It's been business as usual, said Hill. "We've just had to have our deputies and officers cognizant of the fact. Just be aware that you aren't always able to talk as far as you can hear."

County leaders said they expect the tower's new poly phaser to be delivered and installed by Saturday. 

Copyright 2015 WALB.  All rights reserved.

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