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Every day, people bet their lives that their 911 service will work when they pick up the phone. 911 symbolizes everything that the public expects from the phone system - it always works, it's always there, and the consumer doesn't have to think about it.
But the public doesn't see the hard work it takes to make the 911 system run. 911 service depends on a network of two-way radio communication between dispatchers, police officers, firefighters and EMTs.
Every part of that network has to run with unerring reliability. The safety of the public, and the safety of the first responders themselves, depends on it.
So what kind of alarm monitoring would you trust to keep this critical network up and running?
Al Long is an expert on the communications needs of public agencies. Long is vice president of the radio division of Mid-State Communications and Electronics, an EFI provider based in New York State. Mid-State's clients include the New York State Police, the New York State Emergency Management Office, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and numerous county and municipal governments.
Mid-State Communications is an authorized Motorola reseller, providing installation, maintenance and service for complete two-way radio systems.
"We're pretty close to a full-service provider. We provide equipment and service, but most of all we provide expertise, so our clients don't have to try to piece together a system by themselves," said Long.
For over 10 years, Mid-State C&E has sold its clients the T/Mon Remote Alarm Monitoring System and other DPS Telecom telemetry solutions.
"In our E911 radio communications systems, all the tower sites are tied together by microwave, and monitoring the microwave network is a DPS T/Mon alarm system. Door entry, temperature, environment, radio alarms, microwave alarms, battery status, tower lighting - all alarms are reported back to the 911 control center, so they know the status of their sites at all times," Long said.
Why choose T/Mon? Long said that T/Mon and DPS remotes beat the alternatives on capability, value and reliability.
"DPS Telecom equipment provides reliable alarm report monitoring for a good price. T/Mon is very flexible. It supports a lot of protocols, a lot of interfaces, even the SNMP stuff," Long said. "And the feedback I get from my clients about DPS systems is very positive. The DPS equipment goes in, it works well, and it stays working."
Steuben County in southwest New York State is mostly rural, slightly larger than Rhode Island - and it's one of the few places in the United States that doesn't have 911 service.
But that's going to change soon. Steuben County will be getting its 911 service in spring 2005, and that's a necessary step forward, according to Steuben County radio technician Fred Marvin.
"We've needed 911, because now we have a lot of tourists coming through the county," Marvin said. "People who have lived here all their lives, they know what specific numbers to call for fire, police or an ambulance. But for most people today, what they know is, if there's an emergency, you call 911."
To prepare for the new 911 system, Marvin has been working with Al Long and Mid-State to expand Steuben County's emergency radio network, which serves the sheriff's department, 48 fire companies and medical services throughout the county.
Mid-State expanded the network from five microwave tower sites to nine, and replaced Marvin's old network alarm system with a T/Mon. Marvin monitors a wide range of factors in his microwave equipment.
"We use the T/Mon to monitor the microwaves, the fiber optic transmitters and the status of the T1 lines. We also monitor the UPS system for the microwaves, and use analog alarms to make sure the generators are charging the batteries. And of course we monitor door alarms and tower lights," Marvin said.
Marvin said the new T/Mon system has brought solid reliability and efficient maintenance to Steuben County's emergency communications.
"Our backbone equipment has always been reliable, but now with the T/Mon I can facilitate repairs ahead of time, instead of physically going over to the site or finding out that things are not working," Marvin said.
"The T/Mon has been quite an improvement over our old alarm system. The nice thing is, I get an actual description of the alarm in words, instead of just a 'Number 5' alarm, and then I have to check a reference book to find out what '5' is. T/Mon is a lot better," Marvin added.
Given the rapid growth of Steuben County's radio network, Marvin is particularly pleased with T/Mon's expansion capability. "With the 911 system, we went from five tower sites to nine - it almost doubled. There's a lot of capacity inside that T/Mon that we're not using yet. So if we add more sites, I don't think we'll have any trouble," Marvin said
There's no better tool to ensure your network's reliability and uptime than T/Mon NOC, the multifunction, multiprotocol alarm master that supports 25 different protocols and hundreds of telecom devices. T/Mon's standard pager and email alerts, easy-to-use Web interface, nuisance alarm filtering and multiple remote access options are your network's best protection against the threat of service outages.
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