This letter was submitted by Joe Ruvolo, business manager for the .
The that the senator has secured was born out of and outrage by fire personnel that the police would move Medical Control (MedCom) communications to another radio band, which would burden the fire service with the costs associated with the change.
The police, who are responsible for MedCom in Nassau County, required the FDs to comply but not share the costs involved. This is not a narrow banding issue! Most fire departments have complied with the narrow banding mandate on the present 400 band MedCom Channels long before the December 2013 deadline. The issue is, that those who have already complied with the FCC mandate would now be forced to spend additional money to comply with the police "mandate" to convert to the new 500 MHz channels. So, someone asked the senator for help and now we have the money.
The hidden problem is that the current MedCom channels are in use throughout the country and Nassau County ambulances will be the only EMS on the 500 MHz band making inter-county and interstate communications impossible. Across the country, most EMS systems are run as a stand-alone agency or under the control of the fire service. The police are migrating to the more secure 500 MHz channels for law enforcement and taking their ambulances with them along with Nassau MedCom, forcing the Naasau Fire service to come along.
The Fire Service has inter-county mutual aid agreements throughout NYS, and the 500 MHz radios will be useless outside Nassau County. Also, consequently, ambulances assisting in Nassau County will have communication issues here, as they will not have our 500 MHz channels in their vehicles. Nassau police Ambulances rarely are involved in these inter county operations so it is of no matter to them!
The grant would have been better utilized to maintain both a Fire Service 400 MHz system and a police 500 MHz system, which the police agreed to do, prior to Senator Schumer obtaining the grant. Now, they have no reason to maintain both systems!
Also, telemetry cannot be transmitted on the secure 500 MHz channels. So, fire departments will be forced to use, at another cost, yet another system to transmit the diagnostic telemetry to MedCom. To the fire departments, in two years, the cost of the radio will be small in comparison to the costs of overall operations on the 500 MHz system. The grant, in EMS terms, is like "putting a band-aid on a gusher."
For the record, I am the 3rd Battalion Emergency Operation Coordinator. A past chief of the Hewlett FD and past chairman of the 3rd Battalion division of the Nassau County Fire Commission. I’m also a retired NYC police officer and currently the business manager for the Inwood Fire District.
I truly believe that the grant has good intentions, but the money is not being spent in the right place. It is still going to cost large amounts of money for the fire service and for a longer period of time.