Commissioners to consider funding request for pager upgrades

John Richmeier
The Leavenworth Times

When Leavenworth County commissioners meet Wednesday, one of the issues they are scheduled to take up is a request for funding for new pagers for emergency responders in the county.

A recent upgrade to a radio system used by the county has resulted in what Leavenworth County Sheriff Andy Dedeke calls a "critical situation" concerning the transmission of emergency tones and information to pagers used by firefighters in the county as well as EMS personnel.

Commissioners are being asked to approve $145,753 in funding for the purchase of 240 pagers as well as programming the new pagers and upgrading existing communications consoles.

The Leavenworth County Sheriff's Office handles dispatching for most of the fire departments in Leavenworth County and EMS. And the Sheriff's Office maintains the county's communications system.

According to information Dedeke prepared for county commissioners, the county operates an 800 MHz radio system system for emergency responders. The county began using the system, which is part of a state radio system, in 2008. At that time, a decision was made not to upgrade pagers used by firefighters and EMS. But modifications were made to enable the VHF pagers to work with the radio system.

According to Dedeke, upgrades have resulted in pagers not receiving emergency tones or information in a timely manner. The people sending the information have no way of confirming whether the transmissions are received.

Dedeke said the problem has been intermittent in the past but really manifested itself earlier this year following an upgrade to the radio system.

According to Dedeke, this upgrade unexpectedly diminished communications to a critical level. And agencies that use the pagers had not budgeted for upgrades.

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