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September 29, 20144 min read

Panola County improves public safety and saves money by adopting open standards


Panola County Tait Case StudyPanola County has appeared on our blog before when they accidentally dropped a TP9400 in a brush fire. Thanks to the Tait Tough mission critical build quality, the radio survived. Today they share a bit more about their story.  In this video, Daniel Cole (Director of Emergency Operations) and Laura Spell (Dispatch Supervisor Panola County) explain the following:

  • The population and size of Panola County
  • How they moved from a “hodgepodge of radios and radio systems” to a unified critical communication network with Tait radios and Avtec consoles
  • How they improved safety for their people
  • How they saved their taxpayers over $800,000 by choosing a multi-vendor, open-standard solution
  • Why they would recommend Tait and Avtec to anyone

Tait strives to unify critical communications that make public safety officers’ jobs safer and more efficient. We’re proud of the work we’ve done for Panola County and look forward to sharing more stories like this with you in the future.

Additionally, we have included the transcript of the video for your convenience:

Download whitepaper genuine p25 interoperabilityDaniel Cole: In Panola County we’re not real gentle with our equipment. We needed some equipment that would be able to take a beating and keep working.
My name is Daniel Cole. I work for Panola County Emergency Operations. I am the Director. I’m also Chairman of the Panola County 911 Board. Panola County has a population of about 37,500 people and about 710 square miles total. We dispatch for 14 fire departments and five law enforcement agencies.

For years Panola County has just been comprised of just a hodgepodge of radios and radio systems basically. When we conformed to their FCC regulations, we were not able to communicate any more. We had about a five mile area that we could communicate, that was it. So it forced our hand. It was just not safe. We had officers getting out in traffic stops. They couldn’t communicate with other officers or our dispatch center. We had a subject that had been pulled over by one of the municipalities that we dispatched for.

While on the stop the officers noticed some irregularities and a firearm in the vehicle. And they called for help. They took off, and it resulted in a pursuit, a chase, that resulted in several agencies being shot at by the fleeing vehicle. When they bailed out, there was a foot pursuit, but nobody could talk to anybody. Everybody was on their own system, and nobody could communicate with each other.

We narrowed our search down to two different vendors, and when the dust settled we ended up with Tait. And since implementing the Tait radios, we just bring them online and everybody used them. We had zero complaints. Everybody loves them. Consoles, we want redundancy, and we also, in the process, it was suggested to us to, if at all possible, have one person to take care of all of our needs.

With Tait and Avtec partnering together, that provided that force because we already had the Tait radios. It just seemed like the right thing to do is to go with the Avtec consoles.

Laura Spell: A couple of weeks ago we got struck by lightning during a bad storm in Panola County. I believe it was the second hit that I know we’ve taken.

One hit before we got the Avtec and Tait radio equipment. The first time we got struck we lost everything. This time the lightning actually hit the jail and came through the phone lines and got a lot of our equipment, in addition to the two dispatchers who were fine.

Daniel Cole: Of everything that went down, the console stood the test. I think it’s largely to credit Avtec for the redundancy that they built into their system because it was the only thing that kept working after the lightning struck.

Laura Spell: Even an act of God, like this building, continually gets struck by lightning. Our equipment was perfectly fine.

Daniel Cole: Since purchasing our radio, we actually burned one up. It fell off in a fire. The antenna, the knobs, the speaker front and all was cracked and broke, but we put a new antenna on it and the battery was still up. And we push to talk and we can still talk to Jackson on the radio that had no knobs and the antenna was burned off. And to me that speaks volumes of the product.

Going with Tait and Avtec saved us over $800,000 of taxpayer money. And when it came down to it, it was just the right thing to do. We’ve not had any problems. We actually have Tait radios work in areas where we’ve never had communication before. I am personally 100% confident based on what we’ve done. We’ve responded to calls within our county. We’ve responded to neighboring counties for some search and rescues that involved several states and even the National Guard, but we were all communicating together.

We all operate on different radios, different brand radios, and Tait radios have never failed. We have on several occasions, including our lightning strike, called both Tait and Avtec with questions. And 24 hours a day we’ve gotten immediate response.

Laura Spell: And they were so helpful, anything that we needed for them to do, any accommodations that we needed. They got right on it.

Daniel Cole: We’ve never been turned down, and they’ve never gotten off the phone with us until our situation or our problem was resolved. It’s impeccable, second to none.

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