The Alberta government will start construction on a new radio system that will keep emergency personnel from across the province in touch with each other in emergencies and natural disasters.

"The new radio system we are building will allow emergency responders from different agencies and different jurisdictions to, at the flip of a switch, talk to one another quickly and will mean a more co-ordinated response in dealing with small emergencies right up to large-scale disasters," Alberta Solicitor General Fred Lindsay said Wednesday.

Construction of the new system will start in 2009.  It will link 700 Alberta agencies and nearly 30,000 emergency personnel when it is launched in 2012.

Right now, emergency and government agencies use their own stand-alone radio systems.

"This can and does present some challenges,"  said Deputy Commissioner Rod Knecht from RCMP K Division. "Accurate and timely information and communication is the lifeblood of emergency services."

Knecht called the provincewide system a "perfect solution," giving an example of a serious car crash on a highway.

"Should ambulance [personnel]  be the first on the scene and there are no injuries and no potential for fire, however there is evidence of a criminal offence and an individual has left the scene, a single first responder radio system will ensure the best response that could now include standing down the fire department and having a police dog respond for tracking, along with multiple police car response,"  he said.

The province issued a request for proposals for the new system Wednesday.

Construction is expected to start next summer