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WEST CHESTER, PA- The Chester County Commissioners have announced that the Chester County Department of Emergency Services switched fire and emergency medical services (EMS) voice alert paging to a new system, to meet Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requirements. The FCC order instructs radio communications devices in certain portions of the Very High Frequency (VHF) band to reduce channel bandwidth from 25 Kilohertz (KHz) to 12.5 KHz. This “narrowbanding” process will allow more efficient use of radio spectrum and is required to be completed throughout the nation by January 1, 2013.
The cost of the new system is $3.5 million. Over $500,000 provided by a Federal Assistance to Firefighters grant will help offset the total cost. East Brandywine Fire Company sponsored the grant application on behalf of the Chester County Fire Chief’s Association and the Chester County EMS Council. Congressman Jim Gerlach supported the award of the grant.
Chester County Commissioners’ Chair Terence Farrell said, “The new paging system is essential to comply with Federal regulations, which have been ordered so that fire and EMS responders are able to receive notice of emergencies efficiently, and that they may continue to respond to emergencies quickly.”
Commissioner Kathi Cozzone added, “Investment in the new paging system keeps Chester County at the forefront of technology and reinforces our priority for a safe community, as outlined in the County’s Strategic Plan.”
Commissioner Ryan Costello said, “We are thankful for the $500,000 grant supported by Congressman Gerlach. The $3 million remaining cost for the new system is a necessary investment for upgrading our equipment, to ensure our emergency responders are working with reliable technologies for decades to come.”
Chester County’s Department of Emergency Services has been working on this project for more than one year, consulting with the County’s emergency responder community for the design and testing phases of the new system.
Chester County Fire Chief’s Association president Ray Stackhouse said that he appreciated the cooperative approach used on the project where emergency responders were included in the design and testing phases to ensure the system meets operational requirements.
EMS Council President Leo Scaccia commented that it is critical for patient care that medical dispatches are completed quickly and accurately.
The new system was manufactured by Sonik of Vista, California. ARINC of Annapolis, Maryland served as the program manager and engineering support was provided by ACD Telecom of Lake Mary, Florida.