The emergency services committee unanimously agreed to put out an RFP (Request For Proposal) to simulcast the county's P-25 emergency communications radio system.

The current system is multicast, which several communication system engineers feel may be a source of many of the communication problems emergency personnel are experiencing.

The action was taken by the committee after Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey Jr. made the recommendation following studying and researching the emergency communications system through several companies and their evaluations of the system and its problems over the past six months.

In his report to the committee, Carey stated, "There appears to be multiple problems that are causing issues with our communications system including, but not limited to, identified software and firmware issues, microwave links in need of upgrade, design/engineering concerns and system maintenance issues."

Several sheriff's deputies and emergency responders have complained to the committee about not being able to communicate with dispatch, or each other, during an emergency situation.

In January the committee requested Carey invetigate the P-25 radio system in order to help determine what the problems were with radios not working properly and the frequent issues with dispatchers not hearing those who are in the field with radios.

Carey said he had several meetings and discussions with TAIT, Motorola, Harris, a private company and Cassidian. He said Cassidian, formerly known as EADS, contacted Carey.

Carey said Cassidian has, at their expense, corrected many of the maintenance issues with the radio system and have had their personnel evaluate the system, identify and provide solution options for issues that Cumberland County currently has with the system.

"Many issues have been addressed and corrected. Radios have received upgrades and Cumberland County understands the microwave system needs to be replaced. However, Cumberland County still has issues with emergency personnel being able to communicate, or have reliable communications at this time," Carey wrote.

After spending many hours with the various companies, Carey said there were a number of options for the county including discontinue use of P-25 system and implement an analog system, narrow band system; upgrade current system with the installation of additional tower sites in order to improve coverage; convert current system to a simulcast system and evaluate coverage for need of additional site or sites; convert current system to a combination simulcast/multicast system; or, replace system with a different digital system.

Carey gave an eight-page report to the emergency services committee and listed options, as well as his recommendation.

Carey's recommendation was to immediately put out an RFP (Request For Proposal) to simulcast the county's P-25 system, using the existing mobile and portable radio units and as much of the equipment at the dispatch center, as well as the equipment at each of the tower sites, as possible.

"The RFP should include, but not be limited to replacement of the current microwave system with a fully redundant microwave ring that is fully licensed; system backbone should be P-25 phase II ready; provide us with method of proposed interoperability with existing VHF, UHF, and 800 systems, either analog or trunked; provide extensive user training; annual maintenance agreement, including future upgrades: and provide coverage maps to support 95 percent coverage of Cumberland County portable at hip and mobile, tested to industry standards of Delivered Audio Quality (DAQ) 3.4; guaranteed coverage and a properly working system, or customer, Cumberland County, is not financially obligated to any costs; option to add additional tower sites if necessary in the future," Carey's report states.

The committee decided unanimously to put out an RFP based on Carey's recommendation after a motion was made by Carmin Lynch, 9th District commissioner.

Jeff Brown, 8th District commissioner, did not attend the meeting.

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