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State communications system improved since Katrina

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Posted: Aug 27, 2010 10:18 PM by Ashley Rodrigue
Updated: Aug 27, 2010 10:38 PM
Source: WBRZ

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Topics: Katrina, communication, Louisiana, state, radios

State leaders give themselves a "10" for upgrading communications. Katrina exposed the flaw, but agencies essentially work as one now.

With the help of new radios, an exclusive frequency system and mobile communications center ready at a moment's notice, the state of Louisiana says it's ready to handle a situation like Katrina much differently than it did five years ago.

"Multiple agencies responded in the New Orleans area and were unable to talk to each other on their own communications systems," said state communications specialist Paul Murphy.

Now, everyone in the state shares one communications system spread over more than 100 locations across Louisiana.

"No matter where you are in the state, you were able to communicate through those multiple sites to anyone else in the state of Louisiana," said Murphy, "as opposed to before, where you could only speak solely to somebody on a radio system who is within the limited coverage area of that system."

"We're able to communicate with the sheriff's offices, the small city police departments, the small constables offices, all of those, we're able to talk now on a regular basis," said Louisiana State Police trooper Russell Graham.

During the oil spill, the state merged with programs from Pensacola, FL to Austin, TX widening the reach of resources.

"It's great for our contraflow activities," said Murphy. "It allows us to coordinate with our neighboring states in Texas, Mississippi and Alabama so that we're all on the same page when we're evacuating our citizens."

Now, the state says it's a leader in emergency communication, all because of Katrina.

"I think the experiences we have had have led us to a point where we have one of the best, most redundant and well-executed communications systems in the country," said Murphy.

The state's system is so trend-setting that its communications experts were asked to rebuild Haiti's communications system after the earthquake in January.

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