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Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Groundwork Continues For New 911 Communications System

Groundwork continues to be laid for the new 911 emergency communications network that will service Potter County’s fire, ambulance, medical services and police agencies. At this week’s business meeting, Commissioners Doug Morley, Paul Heimel and Susan Kefover approved a $960,000 installment payment toward the system, which carries an estimated price tag of $4 million. Consultant Mitch Smith, a former Pa. Emergency Management Agency employee who has been advising Potter County for more than 15 years, attended the meeting to share details on the rollout. Through 14 towers, microwave relay technology and other infrastructure, communications coverage will be enhanced and response times by emergency agencies will be shortened.

“Speed of response can be a life-or-death situation,” Smith explained. “The new system will be able to reach some sections of the county that have been underserved. It will also bring you new technology to replace equipment that has become obsolete.” Smith said he is working closely with Glenn Dunn, the county’s emergency management coordinator, and the two have reached out to emergency responders across Potter County to seek input on their communications needs and respond to concerns.

A $580,000 state grant has been obtained and the commissioners have arranged for a long-term loan to help cover the remaining costs. Potter’s County’s current system was installed in 2002. Comparable systems typically have had a 10- to 12-year lifespan. Smith said the upgraded system would have a life expectancy of approximately 15 years. Dispatching will continue to be provided from the Tioga County 911 Center, although the equipment is also compatible with other dispatch centers. 

(Picture: Mitch Smith from MPS Consulting discusses the new 911 emergency communications system with the Potter County Commissioners. Reporter Halie Kines from the Potter Leader-Enterprise is shown at right).

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