McKean County’s Emergency Radio System Considerations | information
A fire at a Church Street residence in Port Allegany on Wednesday brought a known problem with the county’s emergency radio system to a turning point.
Star Hose Company chief Alex Johnson wrote a letter to district officials to resolve the issue.
Addressed to Tracy Carl, the McKean County Emergency Services Director and McKean County’s Commissioners Carol Duffy, Tom Kreiner and Cliff Lane, the letter noted that Johnson was in contact with many of the above individuals (with the exception of Duffy) on Wednesday morning had confessed. Concerns about “the shortcomings of McKean County’s Emergency Radio System.” He noted that this was an ongoing conversation and that the commissioners confirmed that they were aware of the problem prior to the emergency on Wednesday.
Johnson went on to explain that the fire at 55 Church Street in the Port Allegany neighborhood resulted in three firefighters being treated for overexertion. Meanwhile, Johnson said that six department members did not receive the alarm for the call because the county system did not activate their pagers.
“The county’s consequences, which have so far ignored my repeated warnings, have now escalated into a real safety hazard for our firefighters,” wrote Johnson. He also expressed his intention to be more active in raising awareness of this problem and lobbying for its solution.
“McKean Counties deserve to know that firefighters may be ignorant of a life and death emergency, and they deserve an answer as to why,” Johnson concluded.
McKean County Commissioner Carol Duffy said Friday that she and Johnson had discussions about the issue. Johnson mentioned in his letter the email exchange that Duffy confirmed as she stated,
“Alex contacted me regarding paging issues. Every time he emails me our director is of course aware and he has brought in people to fix bugs and try to assess the situation and come up with a solution.
“So far the tests haven’t really shown anything. Our director I believe will have some additional people next week trying to help with this situation. We are trying to find a solution for this. “
Duffy explained that a comprehensive solution would require more planning and budgeting, with an emphasis on where potential funding could come from for this type of project.
“We definitely put the safety of our citizens first and we want to address problems as quickly as possible. I just don’t know there is an instant fix and that’s frustrating. It’s frustrating for everyone. It’s our McKean County topography. We’re just going to try to do it the best we can, ”Duffy said.
The coronavirus pandemic has shown the importance of the area’s emergency rooms and first responders and how hard they work, Duffy said.
“With the pandemic, our emergency services have really strengthened. They tried to help with the vaccine issue by running mini-clinics. You worked a lot of overtime, ”said Duffy. “The commissioners had to deal with our staff’s safety concerns, so it was difficult to recruit people and start a new project. Everything was halted when the pandemic hit. We had to turn things around and address them as they came. They did a good job and we will definitely take a look at our infrastructure. “
Duffy said she spoke to Johnson on Friday and committed to updating him with news as the effort progressed.
“I think we’re working together to find a solution. I said to Alex, ‘I appreciate your passion.’ They all have this passion and that is important in our community, ”she said.
Various lawmakers and news outlets were featured in the social media post, including PA State Rep. Martin Causer and Senator Cris Dush, as well as the Pennsylvania Office of the State Fire Commissioner, The Bradford Era and the Olean Times Herald, the Port Allegany reporters Argus and numerous television channels.
A call to Carl for comment on Friday went unanswered and a call to the Star Hose Company fire station went unanswered.