The BRICS Support unit provides support for several shared, countywide systems and is responsible for the communications technology needs of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office. Some of the systems supported are considered critical infrastructure – or, networks and systems so vital that their incapacitation would have a debilitating impact on emergency services in such a way as to compromise the safety of the public or first responders.
Butler Regional Interoperable Communications System (BRICS) radio systems
The complex nature of this infrastructure requires twenty-four hour monitoring, support and response. Our technicians respond to everything from routine requests for user support to serious technical problems and incidents requiring communications support.
The 800MHz system, along with the other public safety voice and data systems, are supported by the Communications Division. This unit’s personnel support equipment and systems at nine dispatch centers and seventeen tower sites located in and around Butler County. They also service the radio subscriber equipment used by any agency on the system.
Butler County has a state of the art voice communication system; a 14-site digital 800MHz Motorola Project 25 radio network. The system was built by the Butler County Board of Commissioners and is operated by the Butler County Sheriff. It supports all fifteen law enforcement agencies, twenty-three fire and EMS agencies and eight dispatch centers that are based in Butler County. Six other county agencies, three hospital emergency departments and twelve public works agencies have joined. It has been sized to provide future support to public works, public health, hospitals, transportation and schools.
Butler County maintains a five-site VHF radio system used primarily for fire station, fire personnel and weather siren alerting. It is also used to provide interoperability with neighbors.
This unit manages the county-wide emergency 9-1-1 telephone system in Butler County, Ohio. The system encompasses the entire county including all cities, villages, and townships. Butler County 9-1-1 partners with eight (8) dispatch centers to provide an integrated network for comprehensive emergency response coverage. Each center answers calls for the community for which it serves and is managed by that jurisdiction.
When a citizen dials 9-1-1 to report an emergency, their call is answered by a primary “public safety answering point” or PSAP. If the location of the emergency is outside the area served by the answering PSAP, the call is then transferred to the appropriate primary or secondary PSAP.
In Butler County, our nine dispatch centers serve as the PSAPs; six are primary, where calls are initially answered, and three are secondary. Originally, the six primaries had separate 9-1-1 call-taking equipment that did not allow for easy transfers.
In 2011, at the direction of the county’s 9-1-1 Planning Committee, personnel devoted countless hours to study and plan for a next-generation 9-1-1 system intended to serve all centers. A shared system would be far more cost effective than upgrading or replacing the six individual systems, and would provide increased functionality and transfer capability. In addition, an IP-based system would be capable of “next-generation” features as they become available; the most widely publicized is the ability to send text messages to a 9-1-1 dispatcher. While the mobile phone carriers in our area are not yet ready to deliver such features, a standards-based system will be capable of receiving them when the time comes. The construction of such a system is expected in 2013.
Technicians are on call to respond to problems at any of our twenty-two tower sites and nine dispatch centers, which are spread across the county and, in some cases, are outside the county. It’s not unusual for a problem to require a technician at either end of a connectivity problem, or for one person to address the technical issue while another helps users and dispatch centers continue operating despite an outage.
Several personnel are trained and certified as COMT (Communications Unit Technician) and COML (Communications Unit Leader) through programs developed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In the Incident Command System (ICS), the COML leads the Communications Unit and is assisted by one or more COMTs; together, they are responsible for both the technical and operational aspects of interoperability during an incident, natural disaster or pre-planned event.
In 2011, the Communications Division began developing a communications incident response vehicle using an ambulance donated by Liberty Township. The vehicle will be used to provide support at incidents, ranging from mobile battery charging to the setup and deployment of on-scene communication networks.