Editorial: First responders given clear signal

CREST agreement will service emergency personnel and residents well

The Capital Region sent a clear signal to emergency service personnel last week.

The Capital Region Emergency Service Telecommunications (CREST) has reached a 13.1-million deal with Motorola Solutions Canada for new digital infrastructure for its radio telecommunications. The “next generation” of technology will replace the existing radio system that serves 50 emergency response agencies within the Capital Region, including Oak Bay police and fire departments.

The new radio system will provide first responders with enhanced audio clarity while enhancing the coverage area.

Oak Bay Fire Chief Dave Cockle noted that testing in areas that previously had limited radio communications, such as some underground parking areas and other concrete buildings, has shown a definite improvement.

“Fire and police have been working with CREST for a little over a year – knowing this was coming – to ensure we have the best radio capability we can get for the dollars spent. The radios are loud and clear and have good bandwidth for us.”

The system is identical to the one that will be use by E-Comm in the Lower Mainland, meaning emergency providers in both regions will be able to support each other during a major event, noted Oak Bay Police Chief Andy Brinton.

The new radio system is part of a $24.5-million investment by CREST that will also see the installation of new transmission towers, lines and further equipment upgrades. It’s an investment that’s sure to pay dividends in the event of an emergency.

More than 7.5 million calls go through the system covering police, fire departments and ambulance services in the region, representing one call every four seconds. Last week’s announcement rings loud and clear that CREST is committed to ensuring first responders have a radio system capable of handling those needs.