Fulton County Communications

200 E 8th St. Rochester, IN 46975

574-223-2910

 

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Article that appeared in the Rochester Sentinel April 21, 1998 as written by Bill Wilson.

Job well done to Fulton County police dispatchers Deb Heishman and Kris Lease for handling emergency communication relating to Monday's fatal accident with admirable skill. Anyone listening to scanner traffic that day had to have been impressed with the way these two deftly helped orchestrate police and medical response to two almost simultaneous accidents, and the closing of Indiana 14 for emergency crews. They relayed information with precision and finesse. Dispatch duty requires a clear head and a sense of place. These two showed plenty of both.

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New police radios loud and clear

BY CHRISTINA M. SEILER
Staff Writer, The Sentinel

Local police can hear each other loud and clear with new emergency radio equipment now being installed.
Sheriff Roy Calvert told Fulton County Communications Board members Thursday he heard Fulton County Sheriff’s Department radio traffic all the way to Marion this week. In the past he may not have been able to hear his own officers in Delong.
The setting of radio towers in outlying communities in the coming week will nearly culminate a year-long police communications project, said Fulton County Communications Director Rob Bryant.
When Talma, Akron, Grass Creek and Leiters Ford towers are installed, firefighters and police officers throughout the county will be linked to a much more powerful communications system that will enable them to hear each other all the time, said Bryant.
It’s called a voter system. Here’s how the $232,000 system works: Radio transmissions by firefighters and policemen in outlying areas will be sent on a UHF (ultrahigh frequency) radio band to the Fulton County Sheriff’s Department radio tower. When the signal hits the tower it will then be relayed back onto the airwaves (repeated) on a VHF (very high frequency) band for others to hear.
The UHF frequency from the rural towers will be 40 watts, while the VHF frequency is 100 watts.
Presently, police and fire personnel transmit on a 5-watt portable system.
“It’s taken care of a lot of problems,” Bryant said. “The system we were using was 40-year-old technology. Its original design was for a very limited number of officers ...” Bryant said the stronger signal sends the radio transmission further.
The new system, he said, will be especially useful to the county’s firefighters. They use portable radios much of the time, he said. Portable radios have very little range. Police officers use their portable radios about 50 percent of the time, paramedics 25 percent.
Fulton County Emergency Medical Service isn’t included on the repeater system yet, but probably will be later, Bryant said. Bryant said a change in the console at the central dispatch center in the jail will increase the ability for dispatchers to talk with paramedics.
“We could have a fire department or a police officer calling in from the northwest part of the county.
Rochester city units or other units could not hear them, key up their radios (talk) and override their
signal,” Bryant said.
A policeman unable to hear the very weak signal would drown it out, possibly creating unsafe conditions for the officers who couldn’t hear each other.
Also, said Calvert, there were dead spots in the county where radios were not strong enough to send a good signal from at all.
The hardest part of getting the new system up and running was the Federal Communications Commission licensing process, Bryant said. The county applied for and received eight UHF and two VHF licenses.
UHF licenses are for police and fire transmission at relay from each rural tower, VHF for police and fire repeat from the jail tower.
Although the system uses stronger signals, it does not use any different frequencies for outgoing transmission from the repeater. Because the repeater sends the frequencies those with police radio scanners need not make any changes, Bryant said.
The new system is being paid for with 911 funds. There is a $1 surcharge placed on each telephone line in the county for the 911 system. The telephone company collects it and forwards it to the county. The communications board has control of the money.

Article as published by Rochester Sentinel

December 10,1999

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