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West Virginia transfers first responder network; McCabe appointed to remain coordinator
– West Virginia has streamlined the critical telecommunications system that connects police, fire and emergency medical first responders across the Mountain State, while keeping a law enforcement veteran at its helm.
The Statewide Interoperable Radio Network, or SIRN, is now being overseen by the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management, which is part of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.
“We are very appreciative of the governor’s and the Legislature’s trust in allowing us to provide oversight for the SIRN system,” said DHSEM Director Jimmy Gianato. “This valuable system provides interoperable communications to our first responders on a daily basis and during times of disaster.
The system has proven invaluable during many major events and allows all agencies, including our National Guard, to communicate effectively when crisis occurs.”
G.E. McCabe has been the network’s Statewide Interoperability Coordinator for eight years. Gianato appointed McCabe earlier this month to remain in that key administrative position following SIRN’s transfer.
The system began as a pilot project funded by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Harrison, Marion and Monongahela counties. The W.Va. Department of Health and Human Resources provided financial, technical and grant administration through a gubernatorial executive order.
Legislation passed during this year’s regular session transferred SIRN to the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (DHSEM). The system will now build on the success of the original project through collaboration with many local, state and federal partners, Gianato said.
“This system has only succeeded because of the trust and partnerships of its users and their financial support,” Gianato said. “We intend to continue to value the input of the SIEC as we expand and upgrade this statewide system.”
Through its network of more than 80 towers arrayed across West Virginia, SIRN employs the latest radio technology to connect public safety agencies and personnel at all levels. It is designed to provide coverage both for 911 Centers and other facilities as well as vehicle-mounted and handheld devices. The legislation also created the Statewide Interoperable Executive Committee to help ensure input from its wide range of users across the state.
“The system provides first responders and our 911 communications staff with a level of field communications we had never even dreamed of in the past,” said Harrison-Tyler 911 Director Paul Bump. “The system’s reliability and resiliency has been proven over the years. We have on several occasions had our first responders in various parts of the state assisting other counties, and have been able to maintain near seamless communications throughout. Having access to good local communications as well as the ability to communicate with other responders and 911 centers statewide is a tremendous asset to all 911 and public safety agencies.”
Statewide Interoperability Coordinator, has more than 27 years of law enforcement experience, and is retired from the WV State Police. He served in numerous leadership roles during his career there, including as director of Communications and Information Technologies, and chief of Professional and Technical Services.
McCabe contrasted SIRN’s approach and success with how communications were handled when he began in law enforcement and during such major disasters as Hurricane Katrina and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The importance of interoperable communications was a key lesson from the latter.
“It is through the collaborative efforts of our municipal, county and state agencies working together that we have been able to build a radio network that provides our first responders with interoperable communications between agencies and across disciplines,” McCabe said. “I am honored to continue to serve as the SWIC for West Virginia and be a part of such a great group of individuals who make up our SIEC and Regional Interoperability Committees (RICs), which govern the SIRN.”
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Lawrence Messina 304-558-2930