The Sagadahoc County Emergency Management Agency plans to upgrade its aging radio infrastructure, which might improve communications among first responders.

The Topsham Police and Fire Department officials Thursday will seek the Topsham Selectboard’s approval to allow the town to participate in the county’s radio infrastructure project.

If approved, the Sagadahoc County would take over radio improvements, maintenance and ownership of the system in the town.

“I think improving emergency radio communications throughout the county will not only help our first responders but will help our citizens, and visitors get the help they need,” Sagadahoc County Communications Officer Mike Carter said. “Whether that is sending an ambulance, police car or a fire truck, we want to make sure we have adequate communications between our dispatch center and the field first responders.”

All first responders in Sagadahoc County – law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services – rely on the radio system to communicate in the field, receive real-time updates and stay connected to the dispatch center while responding to an emergency.

Topsham maintains that equipment.

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The existing radio systems in police and fire departments, which supports numerous portable and mobile radios in the field units, are at least 8-10 years old.

Carter said the upgrade will enhance the radio coverage in Topsham and surrounding communities.

“We want to avoid working with end-of-life equipment in the future,” Carter said. “If we get to a point where there is end-of-life equipment within our tower site, we cannot go to a vendor and purchase them because they won’t make them anymore. We would have to scour third-party websites to find equipment to repair our system.”

While the project is still in the initial planning stages, Carter said if it is approved, the entire project will take approximately 2 1/2 years to complete.

The total cost of the project is estimated to be around $5 million that will be used from the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“There are many components to this project,” said Carter. “This project is going to help everyone and put everyone’s safety as a priority

Topsham Police Chief Marc Hagan said there are a few areas in the town that do not have the best radio signal.

“One of the big issues we have is in the west end of the town towards Lisbon and Bowdoin,” said Hagan. “We don’t have as good as service as communications, so with the addition that Sagadahoc County is calling for of towers, it should help our service over the west side of the town.”

Hagan said this project looks like it will improve the situation.


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