Coast Guard employs first responder radios in Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS — The Coast Guard successfully conducted its first inter-agency radio communications with the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Department Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009.

The Coast Guard received a report of a red flare sighting Wednesday in the vicinity of Delacroix, La. Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans launched an MH-65C Dolphin rescue helicopter and crew and the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Department dispatched a patrol car to investigate source of the red flare.

Together the Coast Guard and the St. Bernard Parish Sheriff’s Department were able to search the area and maintain radio communications and determine that no one was in distress. This was the first operational use of the Coast Guard’s upgraded first responder radios with local or state entities in Louisiana.

“This represents a significant first step in achieving the Department of Homeland Security mandate, that the Coast Guard be able to communicate with other state and local emergency response agencies on common frequencies,” said Cmdr. Whit Irwin, the assistant operations officer. “With the number of reports that we get from local sheriff’s deparments and other agencies, this greatly increases the effectiveness of on-scene coordination.”

Coast Guard Air Station New Orleans recently upgraded their five MH-65C Dolphin helicopters with new radios that have the capability to communicate with local and state first responders.

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