By Jessica Kartalija

EASTON, Md. (WJZ) — Preparing for the worst using the best technology. First responders throughout the Eastern Shore can now communicate through one secure system. Friday, Governor Martin O’Malley put it to the test.

Jessica Kartalija has more.

On September 11, 2001, firefighters rushed into the World Trade Center as police were ordered out—an epic failure in communication that had state and federal governments scrambling to fix.

“Communicating on a single radio is integral to enhancing law enforcement’s missing of Homeland Security. Connecting local, state and federal resources is vital,” said Col. Marc Brown, Maryland State Police.

Several state agencies are in Easton announcing the completion of the second part of a five-phase plan connecting all first responders on a secure radio system.

“This powerful new radio system saves lives, allowing public safety personnel an even faster response time,” Brown said.

The system will link Maryland’s Eastern Shore with the mainland. The once-divided radio system caused issues responding to accidents on the Bay Bridge.

“The one side of the bridge couldn’t talk to the other side of the bridge,” said Governor Martin O’Malley. “The ability to talk with one another is an essential capacity that we need to protect Marylanders, especially in this time of more severe weather and terror threats.”

Central Maryland is already connected. Now three federal and 11 state law enforcement agencies on the Eastern Shore are part of the system. Governor O’Malley made a ceremonial first call on the system.

“MEMA, MJOC, can you read? Over,” he said.

“Ocean City reads you loud and clear,” was the response.

“Now we are able to go to the same channel, where everyone knows what’s going on and everybody is accountable so we can coordinate and plan effectively and efficiently,” said Chief David Spencer.

There are still parts of western Maryland that aren’t linked to the secure radio system. The state is hoping to add those areas to the network in place by 2016.

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