mens dr martens Governor tests new Kent County radios
CHESTERTOWN In a tent set up outside the detention center, Kent County Commissioner Ron Fithian answered a call made by Gov. Martin O’Malley on a new statewide communications system.
While the Maryland First Responders Interoperable Radio System Team does not go online until later this year, O’Malley took the opportunity Tuesday to check in with the agencies linked to it. Maryland FiRST aims to provide statewide communications for first responders over a single secure network. Kent is the only local government connected to it.
Kent Office of Emergency Services Director Wayne Darrell was reportedly with O’Malley at the World Trade Center in Baltimore for the call.
“Kent how do you read?” O’Malley asked Tuesday.
“This is Commissioner Fithian at the Kent County Communications Center. We copy you loud and clear, governor,” Fithian said.
O’Malley thanked Fithian saying he could hear the commissioner well and welcomed the county as the first local government user of the system.
Joining Fithian in Chestertown were Kent County Sheriff John Price; Todd McGinnis, Brad Russum and David Rice, all of OES; Kent Queen Anne’s Rescue Squad Chief Allan Schauber; Rock Hall Fire Chief Troy White and Otis Darling of the Chestertown Volunteer Fire Company.
“This concludes the test of the Maryland FiRST radio system. Be safe, protect lives, do your duty. Thanks a lot,” said governor at the broadcast’s end.
According to the governor’s office, Kent is part of the first phase rollout, for which the connections cover primarily central Maryland. The next phase of will include the entire Eastern Shore and is expected to be completed by the end of 2013. The rest of the system should be connected by the end of 2016.
McGinnis, an emergency communications specialist, said the county is spending about $3 million on the system, and will be replacing all radios for the sheriff’s office, OES, the volunteer rescue squad and the Chestertown and Rock Hall police departments.
McGinnis and Rice said the county was being required by the Federal Communications Commission to upgrade its low band VHF radio system, and other options were expected to cost more in the long run than joining the new statewide network. McGinnis said the old system has been in operation since the 1990s.
“Today has been a long time coming, and it’s a significant step forward for connecting all of Maryland’s first responders to enable them to share information and help us create a more resilient Maryland,” said O’Malley in a statement.