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PLATTSMOUTH – Several years back, Cass County officials hired a firm to assess the county’s emergency medical service and see what areas could be improved.

The top concern that came from various public meetings was the poor quality of communication from the 911 dispatch office in Plattsmouth to emergency personnel around the county.

Signals to these emergency departments were either being lost or they had trouble hearing what the dispatchers were saying.

That should no longer be a problem as of this past Tuesday.

That’s when a new communication system went live.

“This is a big deal,” said County Commissioner Jim Peterson, who has been helping this project along for several years.

He described the system as “one-of-a-kind,” the only one of its kind in Nebraska.

“It’s combining a private system with a state system,” Peterson said. “We were able to get enough radios from Motorola that were recoded and reprogramed to every community based on their needs.”

Up to 500 radios that had been used in Douglas County and reprogramed are now in the hands of emergency volunteers around the county, according to Peterson.

Other updated equipment for 911 use was purchased and installed on 10 tower locations throughout the county to ensure quality reception to all community rescue departments.

“If I call 911 in Plattsmouth, it will go out to every community,” Peterson said. “Everybody is aware of it.”

That’s critical if mutual aid between communities is needed for emergencies, he said.

There was also a back-up system installed in Weeping Water, according to Peterson.

“We never had a backup before,” he said.

A lot of improvements have come to the county’s EMS over the past few years, including this one, according to Peterson.

“This is the result of the new EMS program.”

Peterson brought up this new system at Tuesday’s board meeting, praising all those who got it up and running.

Board Chairman Dan Henry added his praise, including the work his fellow commissioner performed.

“You donated a lot of time, too,” he told Peterson.

On an issue the board voted and approved, the county’s law enforcement center adjacent to the courthouse will get a new roof and improved ventilation.

The current roof is 17 years old and nearing the end of its life.

The board approved a contract of slightly more than $221,000 with McKinnis Inc. of Blair for the re-roofing work, along with the improved ventilation system. The work should start in the spring and take up to two months to complete, a company official said.

“It had to be replaced and we’re doing it,” Peterson said, “You have to maintain your buildings.”

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