Almost $3 million in upgrades expected for Westmoreland County’s 911 system
Westmoreland County commissioners are expected this week to approve more than $2.7 million in upgrades to the 911 emergency dispatch system.
Public Safety Director Roland Mertz said Tuesday that plans call for replacement of aging computer-aided dispatch equipment and installation of a new transmission tower to provide better radio service in the Loyalhanna Gorge area between Latrobe and Ligonier.
“We can’t afford to have any of these technologies not get updated,” Mertz said.
The computer operated dispatch system now in use is no longer compatible with existing technology and must be replaced, he said.
Commissioners on Friday are expected to approve a $873,668 contract to update and replace the computer system used by dispatchers that links incoming telephone calls to the 911 center with emergency crews, maps and other information needed for quick responses.
The county receives about 1,000 calls a day to its 911 center.
“The CAD system is the heartbeat of the 911 center and hasn’t been updated in five years. If we don’t, we won’t be in compliance with some of our technology and encryption equipment,” Mertz said.
Officials said more than $1.9 million will be needed to erect and outfit a small transmission tower near Route 30 that is expected to improve radio accessibility between dispatchers, police, fire and ambulance crews in the Unity, Derry and Ligonier areas. The county now operates 28 radio towers but coverage still is spotty at best in the corridor along the gorge, Mertz said.
The project also will upgrade the county’s paging system throughout its county-wide radio network to improve overall communications.
“The radio system is our lifeblood and how we do business,” Mertz said.
Commissioners earlier this year borrowed $44 million to pay for capital improvement projects, including the 911 and public safety upgrades.
Mertz said work is expected to begin in January and will be completed by mid to late 2020.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, [email protected] or via Twitter .