Luzerne County’s Enhanced Emergency Radio Communication System will be activated for fire and police calls from Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday and then countywide the following week, County 911 Executive Director Fred Rosencrans said. .
Wilkes-Barre was selected for the initial launch because it’s the busiest municipality for police and emergency calls, Rosencrans said.
“We are ready. I am excited and looking forward to providing the best radio communication to agencies. It is long overdue,” Rosencrans said.
The project includes additional communication towers in new locations, updated microwaves and the replacement of a 20-year-old analog radio system with a new digital system allowing emergency responders to exchange messages .
It promises to increase emergency radio coverage that is spotty or non-existent in parts of the largely forested and mountainous 906-square-mile county, end radio interference and open up more radio channels for responders.
Motorola Solutions Inc. was awarded the contract for the radio system.
The county has purchased more than $8 million worth of Motorola mobile and wearable equipment for police and other emergency responders as part of the project. Mobile radios have been installed in vehicles and the county is completing distribution of the remaining portable radios, Rosencrans said.
All county schools are being provided with mobile base station radios with a panic button, allowing school officials to instantly send a message in an emergency, he said.
Radio reception issues have also been resolved with improved digital radio communications equipment inside the County Jail on Water Street in Wilkes-Barre, the Mohegan Sun Pocono Casino in Plains Township, and the Mohegan Sun Arena in Wilkes-Barre Township, Rosencrans said.
Motorola is contractually obligated to cover the county with 95% emergency radio coverage, 95% of the time, including remote areas and the ground floors of structures in urban and suburban communities, he said. declared. A 20-year support and maintenance contract includes round-the-clock monitoring and support and two hardware/software “refresh” after seven and 14 years to ensure it continues to meet needs.
“The vision is to keep it up to date over the next 20 years,” Rosencrans said.
County Executive Randy Robertson said the county would benefit from the seamless system that is “secure and more robust” and praised Rosencrans and his administrators for completing the project while processing 911 vacancies.
“This is an accomplishment that allows nearly 200 organizations to speak on the same system. I think we all owe him a debt of gratitude,” Robertson said, referring to Rosencrans.
The Board has yet to determine whether it will accept the administration’s request for $3 million of the county’s remaining $95.9 million in unallocated funding from American Rescue County to further enhance the 911 communications project. .
A $1.6 million feature would allow 911 center personnel to remotely connect to the more than 4,000 emergency radios in the field so they don’t have to physically hold them to complete the software, the firmware and other updates. This would ease the burden on 911 personnel.
American Rescue’s other request is for $1.4 million to add functionality that would transmit the GPS coordinates of responders, providing their current location when they communicate on the new system. Because it will improve responder safety, location identification was one of the most requested items when 911 conducted training and discussion sessions with outside agencies, officials said.
During the next conversion to the new system, the county will encrypt the police channels for officer safety at the request of the Luzerne County Police Chiefs Association, although the fire and EMS channels are not encrypted , said Rosencrans.
Anyone interested in listening to fire and EMS communications should purchase a digital scanner, he said.
Contact Jennifer Learn-Andes at 570-991-6388 or on Twitter @TLJenLearnAndes.