Radios to bridge the gap

By Gale Rose
Pratt Tribune – May 31, 2018

Radios that can handle both UHF analog and digital signals will help fill a communications gap among first responders.

A gap in communication among all emergency entities in the county could soon be filled. Tim Branscom, county emergency manager, present- ed a plan to replace radios that can bridge that gap to the Pratt County Commissioners at their May 28 meeting.

During an active shooter exercise at Pratt Community College, it was discovered that there was a problem with communicating among all first responders.

The Pratt Police Department has changed to digital radios while the other emergency services and UHF analog units that can’t hear the police department.

Branscom has worked with the various first responders and come up with a wish list of upgrades and new equipment that will help improve communication and provide a variety of equipment, such as a robot that can be sent into dangerous situations instead of humans, that will make emergency services safer and more efficient.

At the top of the list is radios that can handle both digital and analog communications. These radios would have digital capability in the future. It would take 340 radios to cover all the emergency agencies, Branscom said.

The wish list is long and if everything is implemented, it would take several years to pay for it all. The list was presented to the Commissioners who will review it as they work on the next county budget. Undersheriff Max Barrett said changes in band width are happening and if they happen as predicted, it could require more repeater towers in the county.

Band width has been dropped from 25 Mb/s to 12.5 Mb/s and could drop to 6.25 Mb/s, Barrett said. If that happens, the narrow band would not reach out as far as it can now and it would take more repeater towers to get the signal from place to place.

Bill Hampton, county fire and rescue chief, brought in a revised cost estimate for a new Jaws of Life and power unit. He discovered the previous machine he bid on was not compatible with some of their equipment. So he reviewed his options and found what he needed for an additional $1,221. The new equipment was from Okie Extraction for $8,521 to purchase a pump, primary cutter combination tool and hose.

Pratt County EMS staff may soon have a new work schedule that would eliminate being on-call for 24 hours after just coming off a 24 hour shift. Scott Harris, EMS director, said he was considering a 48 hour on and four day off schedule that would take care of crew having to be on-call for 24 hours and not being able to leave Pratt. This would not change the number of hours for the EMS Staff, said Harris who wants to have the new schedule in place by July 1.

Harris also wants to review the patient transfer policy with Pratt Regional Medical Center and long term care facilities. There are times when EMS has been asked to transport patients at night to another facility in the region only for that patient to have to wait until the morning before they can see the doctor.

Harris wants to discus if that transfer could be done in the morning rather than have a crew make a transfer at night. Urgent need transfers would still be made anytime day or night as necessary.

Harris has hired a new paramedic and a new EMT. He still has positions to fill and has just finished interviewing six people for the remaining positions.


Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
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