Problems with new St. Mary's Digital Comm System

David

Opinions are my own...
PREMO Member
Patron


According to this gentleman, the new multi-million dollar emergency communication system in St. Mary's leaves a lot to be desire, and might even cost lives one day.

Published on Oct 7, 2013
These are the problems that all Public Safety Radio users are coming across in St. Mary's County Maryland. Fire, EMS & Police that require an instant connection to other emergency service responders and communication center officials rely on two way radios.

This video depicts just how bad the system is in St. Mary's County. This video shot at a house fire shows how a fire fighters portable will not allow him to talk to other fire fighters, which could be deadly in an emergency. The county which was told by the radio communications supplier Harris Radio Corporation the county would need around 14 communications towers throughout the county to provide reliable communications to 95% of the counties geographical area. The county director of Public Safety & Information Technology has put public safety officials on a radio system that only provides 6 radio towers with the rest to be added in the next few years.

Public Safety Personnel in St. Mary's County have been reporting issues to the Communications repair division over the last couple of months and get responses such as "We are looking in to it" or "You just need to power off the radio and turn it back on". In an emergency situation Fire Fighters, EMS & Police Officers don't always have time to reset a radio. The system that St. Mary's County has chosen is an 800MHz APCO P25 Phase II Trunked Radio System Installed by Harris Radio Corporation.

The real question is who is responsible when someone dies because of the lack coverage or hardware malfunctions?
P.S. If you are concerned about this issue, you might want to save a copy of the video. Sometimes, things like this have a tendency to disappear. "Yes, Mr. YouTube. County Gov Official Man here. This video is a national security risk. Would you please remove it?" I could relay a similar phone call we received, but then I would have to kill myself...or something like that.
 
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Underthedome

New Member
This is unacceptable! Thirty four million dollars and this system is put on the air for use with less than half of the planned towers. The previous system worked fine and only had a few dead spots. Now we have numerous dead spots throughout the county. Our first responders deserve better than this. We need to hold the public safety director and the county commissioners accountable for this. We should not pay Harris another dime until this is resolved!
 
This really is unacceptable and those that put the system up knowing full well there weren't enough towers in place should be ashamed. The lives of many are now at the mercy of your bad decisions. I seriously hope you aren't sleeping well at night because you are up worrying about whether or not this will be the night someone gets hurt because of a 4 million dollar debacle.
 
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Tech

Well-Known Member
And the radio system on base is just as bad and has been stated to have been a problem during the WNY shooting.
 

tomtom

New Member
Here is the only problem I have with this being posted here on the forums, youtube, or anywhere else that identifys this system with St Marys County. The portable radio is a lifeline for fire/ems/police, and if it's not working, and you're letting the public know about this, the public then knows we these first responders may not be able to call for help. Everyone can see what you post online, good people, and bad. How do you kow after posting this that someone won't plan to attack fire/ems/police, now that you have let them know that communications may be down?

Just my opinion here, I know you said this out off sarcasm, but it is my personal belief that poting information publicly about this system, and the person that posted the video, is a threat to national security.
 

Tech

Well-Known Member
The only threat here is to public safety when units do not receive calls. You know like there is a guy breaking into your house and you call 911.
 

big_poppa

New Member
Real issues

As the Fire Chief of the busiest fire department in the County this is a huge issue! If you are a citizen of this County I strongly urge you to contact your commissioner and let them know your displeasure with this system. We deserve better and so do the citizens of this county. The only way it is going to get any better for us, is for everyone to stand up and demand better.

I could write a book on the issues we are experiencing, but something tells me a lot of it will be public knowledge as early as tomorrow, hopefully Friday at the latest.

Let me say now, this isn't about finger pointing. This is pointing out the fact that this issue is one that has serious life safety implications if it goes unaddressed. I hope that the Harris people, as well as the Director of Public Safety and IT are taking this concern as seriously as those of us on the streets are. When I am reduced to yelling at my guys operating inside of a burning building through a window because radios aren't working, or cops are having to make traffic stops in cell phones because the radios aren't working, lives are in jeopardy!!!

Stay Safe you all!!!

Shawn M Downs
Fire Chief
Bay District VFD
 

Caution

New Member
As the Fire Chief of the busiest fire department in the County this is a huge issue! If you are a citizen of this County I strongly urge you to contact your commissioner and let them know your displeasure with this system. We deserve better and so do the citizens of this county. The only way it is going to get any better for us, is for everyone to stand up and demand better.

I could write a book on the issues we are experiencing, but something tells me a lot of it will be public knowledge as early as tomorrow, hopefully Friday at the latest.

Let me say now, this isn't about finger pointing. This is pointing out the fact that this issue is one that has serious life safety implications if it goes unaddressed. I hope that the Harris people, as well as the Director of Public Safety and IT are taking this concern as seriously as those of us on the streets are. When I am reduced to yelling at my guys operating inside of a burning building through a window because radios aren't working, or cops are having to make traffic stops in cell phones because the radios aren't working, lives are in jeopardy!!!

Stay Safe you all!!!

Shawn M Downs
Fire Chief
Bay District VFD
Chief,
I am assuming these radios patch into the Maryland First Responders Interoperable Radio System Team (FIRST) Trunking System. That being the case were State Funds involved with installing this system? And through what Dept?

I ask because I would think the state would have minimum requirements they expect from any service they put funds into.

Seems like writing the County Commisioners as well as the State might help out. I am just not sure who at the state level to contact.
 

Beta

Smile!
So the communications division is actually saying "You just need to power off the radio and turn it back on." That's hilarious. Where did they get their training, best buy customer service?
 
C

czygvtwkr

Guest
Wow a set of FRS walkie talkies that I bought at walmart for $30 will communicate with each other for 10 miles or more perfectly :yahoo:
 

So_what

Yes I'm an MPD, But who's
Heard last night St.Mary's Fire can't talk to Calvert Fire when responding across the river :shrug:
 

MMDad

Lem Putt
Heard last night St.Mary's Fire can't talk to Calvert Fire when responding across the river :shrug:
I listen occasionally and have heard them communicating just fine. Yesterday at about 5:30 an ambulance from 38 was responding to Solomons and was talking before they even got to the bridge.
 

brian86

New Member
I listen occasionally and have heard them communicating just fine. Yesterday at about 5:30 an ambulance from 38 was responding to Solomons and was talking before they even got to the bridge.
Im sure that calvert could hear the ambulance on there radio just fine. it was the St. Mary's Ambulance with the new radio that had nothing but white noise (Static) the entire time, at leasts thats what I heard them say.
 

migtig

aka Mrs. Giant
So not only are there blind spots in communication, but there is also a failure to communicate between groups.

Hello dark ages. Maybe our police can send up smoke signals.
 

MarieB

New Member
This same thing happened all over the country right after 9/11 when the feds were throwing money at local government, public safety divisions, etc.
 

BernieP

Resident PIA
So the communications division is actually saying "You just need to power off the radio and turn it back on." That's hilarious. Where did they get their training, best buy customer service?
US Navy - it's called an acceptable workaround and will save the contractor millions of dollars and years of schedule.
 

officeguy

Well-Known Member
This same thing happened all over the country right after 9/11 when the feds were throwing money at local government, public safety divisions, etc.
This happens pretty much anywhere public safety radios are moved to digital. In an attempt to fudge the budget, the number or required tower sites is put too low, then after the system doesn't work and the contractor skims off another couple of millions for change orders, it eventually works and everyone wonders how they ever made do with the analog system.
 

MarieB

New Member
This happens pretty much anywhere public safety radios are moved to digital. In an attempt to fudge the budget, the number or required tower sites is put too low, then after the system doesn't work and the contractor skims off another couple of millions for change orders, it eventually works and everyone wonders how they ever made do with the analog system.

When I was still in that industry, there were some public agencies that ended up having to change systems again because they were so fed up.
 
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