Peoria County Installing Equipment for New Emergency Communication System

PEORIA — To prepare for the arrival of a public safety trunked radio system, the County of Peoria is installing communication equipment shelters at 11 different antenna locations throughout the county.

The equipment for the multi-million dollar system will be installed in late spring or early summer.

“Right now we’re installing the generators and the shelters and the infrastructures in order to hold electronic equipment, which we should start receiving sometime in the April-May time frame,” said Peoria County Emergency Telephone System Board Chairman David Tuttle.

Recently, Chillicothe-based Eagle Cos. installed a specifically-designed steel shelter for a master control antenna site, located at the county’s Emergency Telephone System Board 911 facility, 3615 N. Grandview Drive, Peoria. 

The steel shelter meets Federal Emergency Management Agency regulations that require the structure to withstand a 250 mph wind load, while being able to resist flying debris in 100 mph winds.

“That particular one is one of our master control sites and it is a hardened shelter that would be able to withstand tornado speed winds,” said Tuttle. “Hopefully the system would be able to continue to operate on a generator and would not necessarily be blown away or damaged by the storm. That was the purpose of having this particular shelter at one of our master control sites.”

The shelters that will be installed for the communication equipment at the other 10 antenna sites will not be as durable as the shelter at the Grand View Drive antenna site.

“The other ones will just be normal, radio communication shelters,” said Tuttle. “They will still be hardened and still protect the equipment, but they won’t necessarily be at the same magnitude.”  

The public safety trunked radio system will allow all of the police, fire and EMT agencies in Peoria County to communicate with each other, without having to contact a dispatcher.

“It will be a brand new radio system for all of the users in Peoria County, which would be Peoria Police, Peoria Fire, Peoria County Sheriff and all of the volunteer fire and volunteer ambulance agencies, so everyone will be on the same system platform,” said Tuttle. “Right now they’re on different types of radio stations. Peoria Police will be able to talk to Peoria Fire. Peoria Fire will be able to talk to different agencies. Volunteer fire departments will be able to talk to the Sheriff’s Office.”

The new system will allow Peoria County emergency agencies to communicate through portable devices.

“People will be able to communicate portable to portable throughout the County,” said Tuttle. “Peoria Police officers cannot talk with Peoria firefighters if they’re outside of their vehicles right now. So if a Peoria Police officer is out directing traffic and wants to talk with a firefighter on a portable radio at an accident scene  — they can’t do that right now. They have to go through the dispatcher. 

“If there’s a large incident, such as a tornado or a flood or earthquake or something like that, those people working the incident will all be able to communicate on one channel, so to speak, or one talk group and be able to work the incident without having to go through the dispatcher for instructions.”

The public safety trunked radio system is part of the overhaul of the county’s emergency communication system, a process that started in July 2011.