A mountain top installation in western Carbon County demonstrates the effort involved in installing and maintaining equipment for emergency communications. A recent grant will help provide personnel with the equipment they need to operate emergency systems efficiently.
People who got sick of hearing about June's digital television switch should put themselves in the place of emergency communications directors across the United States.
The federal government has mandated that all emergency radio services must be converted from wide to narrow band signals which are "interoperable" with systems throughout the state by Jan. 1, 2013.
The reason? Narrow band signals allow for more channels to be used, which will give more flexibility to law enforcement and public safety agencies.
That flexibility will also extend to give better communication between agencies from other parts of the state.
"This is important because in times of emergency right now, it is hard to communicate with agencies in other places, particularly along the Wasatch Front with what we have now," said Carbon County Sheriff James Cordova. "We operate on completely different channels from their agencies."
County emergency communications coordinator Jason Llewelyn, with help from Cordova and Commissioner Mike Milovich, recently applied for funds along with the Eastern Utah Television and Technology Association to the Utah Permanent Community Impact Board to update communications devices to meet the new standards.
The TV association consists of Carbon, Emery, Daggett, Uintah, Duchesne, San Juan and Grand counties.
The TV group worked with the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments to make the grant application.
Last week, the CIB granted the TV association $2,033,435.25 for the retrofit, with Carbon County getting $642,351.14 of the funding for its upgrades.
"This will put us in a position to be able to communicate better, particularly with other other agencies in other places," said Llewellyn. "If we get into a situation where people from the Wasatch Front come down to help us with a rescue or emergency, we will not longer have to hand them one of our communication devices and train them to do it. We will all be using equipment that operates in the same way on the same bands."
The money from the CIB will be used in conjunction with a federal grant that Llewellyn applied and received last year.
The public safety interoperable communications grant gave the county the ability to replace and rebuild all the mountain equipment needed for communication compatibility with the new personal devices county officials and employees will carry.
The federal grant was for $1.5 million.
"Working on this grant alone was a two year process, so this isn't something that just happened overnight," said Llewellyn.
The result of the grant money will be the construction of an emergency radio system that will meet all those future federal requirements through the seven county region of eastern Utah.
The money the counties received from the community impact board, minus Carbon's portion, breaks down as follows:
â¢Tri-County - Duchesne, Uintah, Daggett counties - $142,826.70.
â¢Emery - $708,423.50.
â¢Grand - $351,724.91.
â¢San Juan - $188,109.