Hmm, some rather interesting statements made in that article...PLYMOUTH — If area emergency services are to follow the lead of the Indiana State Police, they will have to do some updating of their equipment regarding air waves. And following that lead would be helpful if they are going to easily communicate with one another.
Presently the state emergency responders have already completely switched their radio receivers from VHF to an 800 mgz. wavelength which is said to give a clearer, stronger frequency.
“They have built the backbone,” said Marshall County 911 Communications Supervisor Dee Grolich. “It’s a very quiet, clear frequency and with the 800 frequency, we aren’t sharing with cell phone towers.”
Her husband John Grolich, Marshall County Coroner and Plymouth’s EMS assistant chief, said the state wanted the 90 percent coverage air wave radios rather than those that were 35-40 watts, which are about the same strength as a cell phone signal. “It’s being disbanded primarily because there aren’t enough radio channels that are not taken by other communications,” he said.
“By 2012 the models we carry will be obsolete,” Argos Police Chief Rodney Rudd recently told the Argos Town Council. “We currently have two portable units from the county but everyone (emergency departments at county and town levels) is going to 800 megahertz. Ours are about 10 to 15 years old.”
The Argos Police Depart-ment alone would need six additional portable units at about $2,000 - $3,000 each and three car units at about $13,000 each. “We’ve put in for grants to assist with the cost,” Rudd said.
The Argos Fire and EMS departments each have one 800 mgz. radio which were given to them by the county. Because Argos, like other small town volunteer emergency medical service departments, struggles with limited budgets to begin with, funding for the change was going to be detrimental to whether or not they would be able to communicate with other emergency departments when the time comes.
Argos Fire Chief Mark Dean said his department would need to replace 30 more handheld and seven mobile units. Argos EMS Director Russ Alderfer said he expected his department to require at least four mobile units and “a couple dozen” portables.
“The portables go for about $3,000 to $4,000,” Alderfer said. “I don’t see how that’s going to happen.”
Bourbon, also being a small town, will have limited funds to cover the radios it’s emergency departments will need as well. While Bourbon Fire Chief Doug Eyrich said he felt the final switch wouldn’t be fully in effect until “five to 10 years down the road,” the county had also given one of the newer radios to them in case something would happen that they would need to respond to a call from the 800 mgz. frequency. “We’d have to replace at least 12 handheld and about five mobile units,” he estimated.
The Bourbon Police Department would fortunately need fewer. With the two they were already provided by the county, police chief John West estimated they would need only three mobile and three portable units.
“The state got money from a law passed by the legislature that added $1 to each transaction at the (Indiana) Bureau of Motor Vehicles to fund this,” John Grolich explained.
“That money is supposed to fund it and they seem to think it will.”
Grolich said he was a little doubtful that even that much generation of funds may not pay for it all. “A mobile unit is about $3,000 and we’re (the department) strapped financially,” he explained. “The county draws on property taxes and all in all something’s got to give. There’s only so much to go around.”
Grolich said that while the state had intended for complete collaboration by the 2012 projected date, there isn’t really a deadline. “It’s difficult to put a deadline on it,” he said.
“The state only had 5,500 (800 mgz. portable) radios to hand out to the entire state. There are 10 districts and we have the third or fourth largest so we expect to get about 550—if they were to divide them equally.”
He said the only sure date anyone should be looking at is 2013, because that is when the Federal Communications Commission has their deadline to call the VHF radios obsolete.
Said Grolich, “Commun-ication is the lifeline to serviceability; we just have to be able to communicate to keep people safe.”