Public safety agencies in Danville now have a way to better communicate with neighboring communities and the state to improve incident response.
The nationwide computer system known as Comlinc connects radio systems from different locations.
“It basically connects 911 centers and radio systems together,” said Tim Duffer, deputy chief of the Danville Fire Department.
The city’s public safety agencies, including the fire department and the Danville Police Department, connected to the system about a month ago, Duffer said.
Comlinc allows the city’s public safety agencies to communicate with those in neighboring locations, including Pittsylvania and Halifax County, and any other agencies connected to the system in the event of an emergency that would require assistance from other areas.
People also read…
“Any time you have better communication between agencies, the scene or any task runs smoother,” Duffer said.
Comlinc also allows the city’s public safety organizations to communicate with the Virginia State Police and other state agencies. State police and Danville police can open a channel through the 911 center and patch each other up, Duffer said.
“The goal is for all public safety agencies to be connected to Comlinc,” Duffer said.
Connections or patches are made using a voice over Internet protocol using a radio interoperability system, according to the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
“It’s a system that improves our interoperability between agencies,” said Duffer.
Under Danville’s old system, when the Danville Fire Department sought help from an agency in neighboring Pittsylvania County during an incident, responders here had to wait for county personnel to arrive to provide instructions. City personnel would have to either provide one of their radios to responders upon their arrival, or wait at the command post and provide face-to-face instructions, Duffer said.
But under Comlinc, city responders can communicate with district personnel who are on the road and tell them what to do before they arrive, Duffer said.
“We can call the state police dispatcher and they will open a channel so we can communicate with them,” Duffer said. “This allows the operations manager to give orders to this truck.”
The system also allows the county to do the same when city personnel are helping out in the county.
“That allows us to get directions when we go to the county,” Duffer said. “It shortens response time and eliminates some confusion.”
Or if county law enforcement is tracking a suspect into the city, county deputies can notify the police department, he said.
“The county can open their channel and the city can open their channel and the two officers can talk over the radio system,” Duffer said.
The system is also used by the Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Virginia Department of Health and other agencies, Duffer said.
To date, the fire service has not used the Comlinc system for an incident, and workers are still being trained on how to use it, Duffer said.
Danville City Manager Ken Larking pointed out that communication is critical, especially in emergency situations.
“Communication is of course extremely important when it comes to public safety,” Larking said. “The ability of ours to communicate more efficiently with our partners in the region will put us in a better position to serve.”
Not only does the system streamline response in emergencies, it also provides an alternative way to communicate when phones go down, Duffer said.
“We can talk over the radio … or text through computer terminals,” he said.
There has also been an upgrade of 911 equipment and the department is in the process of establishing a replacement 911 call center at the new police headquarters at 1 Community Way off Memorial Drive.
“If this building [at 600 Lynn Street] is compromised, we have another location in the city to operate from,” Duffer said.