New emergency communications system adds to public safetyNext month, public service agencies in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, including Pleasanton, will move seamlessly into a new emergency responders' coordinated radio system that will allow instant communications across jurisdictional lines. This system will improve safety, eliminate duplication of overlapping independent systems, provide effective interoperable voice communications and enable the new East Bay Regional Communications System Authority (EBRCSA) to provide improved public safety services.
Instant communications among the many regional emergency responders became a priority across the country after 9/11 when so many police, fire, ambulance and other units lacked the needed urgent coordination because their vehicle and station radios didn't have matching frequencies. Here in the Tri-Valley, the cities of Pleasanton and Livermore jointly own, operate and share in the cost of an 800MHz radio communications system that was purchased in 1993. While this system has performed satisfactorily, its technology is outdated and in need of overhaul.
In early 2007, as Pleasanton and Livermore were exploring replacement and upgrade options, public service agencies in Alameda and Contra Costa counties also began exploring the feasibility of a two-county coordinated radio system. The end result of that effort was the formation of the EBRCSA, which Pleasanton joined in later that year.
Since then, the EBRCSA has been designing, installing and seeking funds to cover the cost of implementing the radio system. The mayors of the five Tri-Valley cities -- Pleasanton, Danville, Dublin, Livermore and San Ramon -- have pitched the need for federal funding to complete the project on their annual trips to Washington, D.C. As a result of those efforts, Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton) announced in December 2007 that he had secured over $800,000 in federal funding for the EBRCSA, which, with regional and city help, has now paid to finish the system and get it on air.
Although Alameda and Contra Costa counties have so far been spared the emergencies that came with the destructive tornadoes in Dallas-Fort Worth and the Colorado fires this week, we know that earthquake-prone Northern California also needs to be prepared. When major events like those take place, emergency personnel from across the two-county jurisdictions should be able to communicate and coordinate their responses.
The completion of the East Bay Regional Communications System is critically important and long overdue for the public safety agencies in both counties and the hundreds of thousands of us who live here.