Central Radio Dispatching Serves York County, Pa.
York County, Pa., is now on the air with a new emergency dispatching system destined to consolidate all public safety services in both the County and City of York.
York County, with 911 square miles, has a population of nearly 300,000 in 36 boroughs and 35 townships. Fire protection is provided by 65 volunteer fire departments and the paid department in the City of York, which is headed by Chief Robert W. Little, Jr.
After an extensive study by the York County Cooperative Fire Fighting Association, questionnaires were sent to all fire departments in the county to determine the need for centralized dispatching. The response showed a definite interest that was spurred by repeated delays in alarms and manpower response. The members of the York County Board of Fire Commissioners, P. Joseph Raab, Allen C. Spangler and Chairman Charles A. Stein, Jr., heartily endorsed the centralized dispatching facility proposal.
Work had begun in 1969 on a 140-foot, self-supported transmitter tower and associated transmitter housing facilities at Pleasureville Hill and a soundproof, security type control center at the York County Courthouse. Specifications were issued for transmitter equipment, dispatch consoles and encoding/decoding equipment for radio control of the county-wide siren system. Transmitter equipment was supplied by the Radio Corporation of America. Encoder and siren control decoder equipment was supplied by Northeast Communications Company of Newfoundland, N.J., eastern distributors for Plectron Corporation.
Coordination and supervision of the installation was under the direction of Harmon E. Johnson, county director of communications, and J.M. Herman, Jr., York County consultant. Johnson came to York County in 1970 after 25 years of military service establishing and maintaining communication centers in Europe and Viet Nam.
The new facility has 12 dispatchers and administrators. Since its inception, the new center has handled more than 700 calls for fire assistance, in addition to providing dispatching facilities for 29 ambulance groups. The new center also provides dispatching services for the City of York Fire Department, which has nine communities. Dispatching duties soon will be expanded to include 30 municipal police departments.
Control center dispatchers have at their disposal a card file listing the names of over 25,000 county roads and streets, hospitals, schools, convalescent homes, commercial establishments, etc. Each card notes the fire companies due to respond, the nearest ambulance service, the police jurisdiction and standby companies.
The new system permits the dispatchers to activate any of the sirens in any of the 65 individual fire departments by radio through a 100-button encoder console that is completely transistorized and flush-mounted in a new desk console. The unit is of singlebutton operation. The pole-mounted decoders that are used can selectively program a variety of calls when directed to do so by the encoders, such as fire call, noon test, CD alert, CD take cover.
The decoders are completely transistorized, including receiver, decoder networks and timers. Since the timers are electronic, programming can be changed at will by the departments, eliminating the necessity of cam replacement. A unique feature found to be useful is the capability immediately to cancel any function that is running should it be desirable to do so. This is accomplished by sending a cancellation tone sequence to the decoders. Cancellation can be instituted in less than 1 second. The decoders are constructed to accept plug-in modules in the event additional functions are needed.
Encoders for police
The new tone consoles also effectively net together all existing tone alerting systems within the county. In addition, tone encoders have been provided for selective signaling of the 30 police departments within the county. The control center cross-monitors six police radio frequencies.
Eight emergency telephone numbers in use throughout the county dial directly into the control center. Plans are being developed to institute the universal emergency number, 911, into the York County network as soon as feasible.
All telephone calls and radio transmissions into the center are automatically recorded for instantaneous and informative playback. Also, all transmissions by the dispatchers are automatically taped and timed to create accurate response records for the fire, ambulance and police services.
Proud of their history, which dates back to 1741, and the fact that York was the seat of the Continental Congress, the citizens of York County can also be proud of the fact that they enjoy a county-wide alerting and dispatching facility that is one of the most modern in the country.