(Atlantic) Cass County Emergency Management along with Raycom Company from Marshalltown is replacing 47-radios in all of the Fire Trucks and Fire Department owned Ambulances across Cass County this week to a higher watt radio that is narrow band capable.
“The reason that we’re doing this is the federal mandate to go narrowband by the end of this year and it would have cost a significant portion of tax payer money to do this ourselves, so we were able to apply for a grant to get to pay for a good chunk of the project,” explained Koppert.
Rob Koppert, 911 Director, says the narrow band process actually cuts in half the width and audio qualities of a broadcast signal and the lower watt radios tend to suffer significantly more than the higher watt radios.
“We had a study done that showed even if we didn’t narrowband we had issues, especially in the southern and eastern parts of the county, because of some interference from another county, four or five counties away, that we couldn’t hear our own fire trucks; specifically Massena, Cumberland and Anita, in those areas,” said Koppert.
He said that was the reason for a study to determine what was needed to ensure quality communications within those areas. The results of that study revealed that the county had a lot of old radios that couldn’t be upgraded to narrow band. So here they are today with a new communications system that is much safer for the public, Fire Fighters and the EMT’s that are out on the scene.
“There is a situation, like if they’re requesting LifeNet or mutual aide or if they are in trouble some how, if they can’t get that information out then it’s certainly a rescue or fire fighter or life safety issue as well as a public safety issue,” said Koppert.
This new system will also allow EMT’s to have hand held coverage that can be heard from anywhere in the county. A repeater has been constructed along Highway 71 and Lewis Road and there will be repeaters along key areas of the Interstate where the Communication Center receives a lot of calls.
“You get down into those ditches and you cannot get into the com-center with a handheld radio, so we’re going to be putting some remote receivers in those areas to assist with that,” said Koppert. “So we’re going to have a pretty good communications system for our county fire departments here within the next six months.”
The Cass County Fire Association was able to secure a grant from FEMA through the Assistance to Fire Fighters Program that covered 95-percent of the $244,500 project. Rob Koppert says the 911 Board was generous enough to fund the balance of the cost with funds from the 911 surcharge. So, none of the expense was taken out of Cass County property tax payers pockets.
November 9, 2012