Source:Beavercreek Township Fire Department Battalion Chief Nathan Hiester coordinates a multi-agency emergency response to a mock hazmat spill during a test of Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS) technology on a public safety broadband network.
By Nathan Pilling
GREENE COUNTY — Local first responders showed off the next generation of emergency situation response coordination Wednesday morning.
Agencies, including the Beavercreek Township Fire Department, the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Ohio Department of Transportation, responded to a mock hazmat spill in a parking lot near Wright State’s Nutter Center as part of a pilot program demonstrating Multi-Agency Radio Communication System (MARCS) technology on a public safety broadband network.
The system operates through a data network similar to one on which consumer-grade smartphones operate and allows emergency crews from multiple agencies to coordinate a central response to an incident. Those on a scene could use the system to communicate both with a dispatch center and with others on-scene verbally, as well as through streaming video and pictures and could coordinate through a central mapping system.
During the hazmat scenario, crews responded to a truck leaking a hazardous substance, treated the driver of the truck who had been exposed to the substance, stopped the leak and simulated diverting traffic around the exposed area. Throughout the exercise, crews relayed information – including pictures, video and audio – to a central dispatcher and to others on-scene using the system.
According to Beavercreek Township Fire Department Battalion Chief Nathan Hiester, in addition to centralized coordination, the system offers the benefit of operating separately from public cell networks, which could be compromised during a catastrophic event.
“The private network … allows us a little more flexibility with sharing information between agencies, as well as having a network that’s going to work for us when lots of bad things are happening,” he said. “If you add all the cell phone calls that we would be getting if this were a real incident, especially when we start knocking on doors and evacuating people, those things bombard the network and we have to compete for priority.”
The pilot program was demonstrated Wednesday as part of a six-month experimental license for 20 MHz of the 700 MHz broadband spectrum, which was granted to the state of Ohio by the Federal Communications Commission.
Reach Nathan Pilling at 937-502-4498 or on Twitter @XDGNatePilling.