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Tama County Community Foundation equips Emergency Service providers

August 29, 2012
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

"9-1-1 emergency" This response is a trusted assurance Americans have come to know over the last two generations. Whenever an emergency arises, people are confident that a phone call will quickly bring help and assistance to their aid. Tama County Emergency Services are available any time an emergency response is asked of law enforcement, fire, or medical personnel.

In Tama County, emergency calls are received at the emergency command center, located in the basement of the county courthouse in Toledo. From the command center, emergency calls are then dispatched to the appropriate responder, nearest the emergency.

In 2012, however, emergency departments in the county have had to make an equipment upgrades to comply with new FCC regulations. The twelve fire departments, five law enforcement agencies, seven emergency medical services and two first responders have been working to shift their receivers to a "narrow-banding" technology due to the nationwide demand for radio licenses. This means that every portable hand-held radio, every firefighter's pager, and every broadcast tower in the county has to be operating on the new, narrow-band frequency by the end of the year.

Ryan Currens, Director of Tama County Emergency Management & 911 Services, and his assistant, Julie Vokoun, state that the upgrades are progressing well, and that the enhanced services will go "live" later this month. The public will notice no change in services. 9-1-1 calls will continue to be received, and emergency services will be dispatched utilizing the new radio frequency.

Although this change was mandated by the FCC, it was an "unfunded" mandate, meaning that responsibility for making the equipment changes fell to local governments and to the emergency departments themselves. For some departments with newer equipment, this meant a fairly simple reprogramming of radios and pagers at a cost of $50 - $80 per unit. For other departments, though, it meant having to purchase all new equipment to meet the mandated standards, with the expenditure of multiple thousands of dollars.

The Tama County Community Foundation (TCCF) was able to respond to this need, awarding grants for equipment upgrades to three volunteer fire departments in the county as well as a grant to the Tama County 9-1-1 Services for the narrow banding upgrade. Currens states that with these grants, the volunteer departments and the county will be able to fully complete the upgrade project, right on schedule. Tama County residents can rest assured that the upgraded service will be fully operational at the ready to assist whenever there is an emergency, anywhere in the county.

The TCCF, an affiliate of the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa, is able to assist 501(c)3 charitable organizations, schools, and governmental organizations with grant funding to support important projects and needed programs in Tama County. The technology upgrade support of the Emergency 9-1-1 program is a perfect example of a project that serves every resident of the county in a significant, yet unassuming way.

The TCCF has been created by and for the people of Tama County. The Foundation's main goals are to support charitable projects and programs, to attract additional funds, and to assist donors in creating lasting legacies through a variety of giving options within Tama County. For more information about the TCCF, contact the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa at (319) 287-9106, or Rick Krug, Chair of the Tama County Community Foundation at (319) 478-2148.



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