Land mobile radio system saves lives in disasters

By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Public Affairs

ELMENDORF AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska – Every day in the United States, someone requires the assistance of an emergency responder. What if these responders were unable to communicate with dispatchers to receive pertinent information about a victim?

During Arctic Edge 10, a week-long exercise conducted April 26 to May 1, emergency responders from federal, state and local agencies had the opportunity to work together in a natural disaster scenario using an Alaska Land Mobile Radio Communications System (ALMR).

The ALMR, used by emergency responders, is a two-way radio communication system to provide efficient, immediate, private communications during a crisis situation in real time. The system works by automatically sharing a small number of radio channels to a large number of radio users. It also distributes message traffic among the available channels which reduces channel waiting time.

“Recall back to 9/11, when five or six agencies were using different radios being unable to communicate with each other. [In Alaska], they only use one system,” said Chester Ince, subject matter expert, operations management office, Alaska Land Mobile Radio.

The state of Alaska currently has about 14,000 mobile and handheld components programmed to operate with the ALMR system capabilities. Specifically between the Department of Defense, the Federal Executive Agency of Alaska, the state of Alaska, the Alaska Municipal League, and the Municipality of Anchorage.

“The ALMR has been operational for two years, dependent on the Alaskan microwave system, providing immediate communications 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Dell Smith, operations manager, operations management office, Alaska Land Mobile Radio.

According to the 2007 Homeland Security Grant Program, all states are required to formulate and implement communications interoperability plans by December 2007. The state of Alaska completed the ALMR system in 2008 in compliance of federal legislation.