Commissioners approve new pagers

Published 9:33 am Friday, August 13, 2010

WINDSOR — New pagers will be provided to Bertie County’s emergency responders.

During their meeting Monday night, the Bertie County Commissioners approved the expenditure of approximately $160,000 from 9-1-1 funding to allow emergency medical services and fireman to receive new pagers.

Windsor Fire Chief Billy Smithwick appeared on behalf of the Bertie County Fireman’s Association to ask for the new pagers for firemen while Emergency Management Coordinator Rickey Freeman requested the pagers for EMS.

“I’m here on behalf of the fireman’s association,” Smithwick said.

“At this time, we are using obsolete pagers.”

Smithwick said thanks to an act by the North Carolina General Assembly, the county can use half of its 9-1-1 balance on anything that helps public response.

“We can’t get the pagers we are using any more,” Smithwick said.

“If we can’t get them, we won’t be able to respond in emergencies, because we won’t be notified.”

Smithwick said the association was asking for 335 pagers for firemen.

“We are not asking for any extra, just the people with their feet on the ground ready to go,” he said.

Commissioner J. Wallace Perry asked how many firemen were active in Bertie County and Smithwick said the best count was 332.

“I had no idea we had that many,” Perry said. Smithwick said the new pagers were only available from Motorola which meant they were limited in options.

He said the company was, however, the only one that made pagers for the narrow band used by Bertie County emergency dispatch. Perry asked if the Federal Communications Commission was still pushing broadband and Smithwick said it was.

He also said the new pagers would be equipped to make the change. Freeman then reported the need for the same pagers for EMS.

He said the original estimate for $38,153.36 had been reduced by approximately $10,000 because pagers were only to be purchased for active emergency responders.

Freeman said there would be some two-channel pagers for those who worked both fire and EMS which would reduce the number of pagers needed by the fireman’s association.

Perry made a motion to authorize the purchase of the new pagers with Commissioner Rick Harrell offering a second.

The motion passed by a unanimous vote of the board.