Montgomery County continues to push ahead with its digital trunked radio system, part of a larger project dubbed "Public Safety 2000."  Issues with vendors, among other problems, had stalled the progress.  But if the $150 million project continues to go as planned, the county's 9-1-1 dispatch facility will officially come online from the new public safety communications center (PSCC) on April 13.

Steve Souder, the center's director, says the new facility will be the largest in the state, and will be among the most technically advanced in the nation.  It has been under construction for about two years.

The new dispatch facility, at 1300 Quince Orchard Boulevard in Gaithersburg, occupies an L-shaped room, about five times larger than the existing center at 120 Maryland Avenue in Rockville.  Police dispatchers will be on one side, fire/EMS dispatchers on the other, with 9-1-1 call-takers in the center.  The PSCC's lower floor includes rooms with racks of electronics for the computer-aided dispatch (CAD), mobile data computers (MDC), fiber and phone networks.

When the facility opens, it promises to offer some of the most sophisticated technology available to the emergency services.  The locations of patrol cars and fire/EMS apparatus will be superimposed over GIS maps with important data including contours for most every building in the county and fire hydrant locations.

The county's new traffic management center (TMC) and emergency operations center (EOC) are under construction near the same room where the dispatchers and call-takers will sit.  The goal will be to allow both PSCC and TMC the ability to access the county's and state's 2000 traffic cameras and traffic sensors.

Integrating TMC's network of sensors with the CAD is a long-term goal several years away.  At least in theory, the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system will eventually be

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Zone Use
0 D.C. Fire
1 Arlington County
3 MWAA (Nat'l/Dulles airports)
4 Fairfax County
5 P.G. County
6 Loudoun County
7 M.C. Main
8 M.C. Alternate
9 M.C. EMS
10 M.C. Hospitals
11 M.C. Major Incident
12 M.C. Coordination
13 COG/RINS (mutual aid chs)
14 Howard County
15 Frederick County
16 Carroll County
17 Administrative
18 M.C. Police (RX only)
N NIST (selected radios)

The primary Montgomery County fire/EMS zones (7 and 8) as well as the police zone programmed into fire/EMS radios as zone 18 are listed below in detail.

The county's fire talkgroup plan allows for up to six incidents using six sets of four talkgroups.  Each set includes three talkgroups and an announcement talkgroup (ATG) that simulcasts across all four.

Unlike the Uniden scanner, Motorola radios can simultaneously monitor the current talkgroup as well as an announcement talkgroup.  A dispatcher or fire chief using ANN10, for example, could simultaneously give the order to evacuate the area to firefighters who are using INC10, and an EMS sector that has been established for the same incident on INC11.

The talkaround channel (channel positions 7-O and 8-O) is actually RINS-3 (COG-3).

Zone 7 (primary)
3344 0D1 7A Disp   
3376 0D3 7B Ops   
3408 0D5 7C Inc 10
3440 0D7 7D Inc 11
3472 0D9 7E Inc 12
3504 0DB 7F Ann 10
3536 0DD 7G Inc 20
3568 0DF 7H Inc 21
3600 0E1 7I Inc 22
3632 0E3 7J Ann 20
3664 0E5 7K Inc 30
3696 0E7 7L Inc 31
3728 0E9 7M Inc 32
3760 0EB 7N Ann 30
    7O FDTA (867.2375/156.7)
3376 0D3 7P Ops

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Zone 8 (alternate)
3344 0D1 8A Disp
3376 0D3 8B Ops
3792 0ED 8C Inc 40
3824 0EF 8D Inc 41
3856 0F1 8E Inc 42
3888 0F3 8F Ann 40
3920 0F5 8G Inc 50
3952 0F7 8H Inc 51
3984 0F9 8I Inc 52
4016 0FB 8J Ann 50
4048 0FD 8K Inc 60
4080 0FF 8L Inc 61
4112 101 8M Inc 62
4144 103 8N Ann 60
    8O FDTA (867.2375/156.7)
3376 0D3 8P Ops

Zone 18 (police monitor in fire/EMS radios)
14736 399 18A D1 Rockville Dispatch
14832 39F 18B D2 Bethesda Dispatch
14928 3A5 18C D3 Silver Spring Dispatch
15024 3AB 18D D4 Wheaton Dispatch
15120 3B1 18E D5 Germantown Dispatch
15216 3B7 18F D6 Gaithersburg Dispatch
16240 3F7 18G TP 1 (Takoma Park)
16624 40F 18H RCPD 1 (Rockville City)
16432 403 18I GCPCM (Gaithersburg)
17104 42D 18J CCVP 1 (Chevy Chase Village)
16976 425 18K PKPD (Md Park)

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Prince George's County began programming it fire/EMS radios with a new channel plan in February.  When finished, fire, EMS and command portables will each have access to a slightly different set of channels.

The new fire simplex tac channels programmed into the department's HT1000 handheld radios appear below.  Only command portables will have police channel 6, 494.8875, which will allow for communication with the police and for administrative chitchat.  Mobile radios may not get the new channels because of their age and complications adding channels to the Syntor radios (cost prohibitive).

Although the south-county upgrade has not yet been completed to improve reception, the snow in February was supposedly the catalyst that pushed the county into its new channel usage (noted below).  Modifications are possible.  This plan provides for a second EMS dispatcher, although both EMS channels may be combined in the event of staffing shortages or during slow periods.

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Howard County began re-programming its handheld 800 MHz fire/EMS radios during February.  The department also issued an additional 100, for a total of almost 200 portable radios.  Each ambulance will have two portable radios (except for 96 and 116); each pumper will receive three; each special service will get four, Rescue 5 will have two; and each volunteer chief officer will have one portable.

The radios were also re-programmed.  Changes include the ability to page Howard County General Hospital and a "knox box" activation talkgroup in several zones.  The "knox box" is a storage device for controlling access to building keys.

Installation of mobile radios started in February as part of the pilot program.  Motorola is reportedly investigating the varying volume levels, which has been a complaint from some users.

The District had licensed 10 856-861 MHz channels that were eventually awarded to Howard County after the county challenged the city because of their lack of use.  They are: 856.2375, 857.2375, 858.2375, 859.2375, 860.2375, 856.7375, 857.7375, 858.7375, 859.7375 and 860.7375.  Howard, however, reportedly had difficulty coordinating them for use on a countywide basis.  Initially in May, these 10 channels were the trunk's only channels.

But the trunked system was later switched to 10 866-869 MHz channels (866.0375, 866.0625, 866.3875, 866.5375, 866.575, 866.6875, 866.9625, 866.9875, 867.1125 and 868.0625).  On last check, however, 857.7375 remained in use by the system.  867.6375, 867.8 and 868.0375 are also coordinated for use by Howard County.

Like Montgomery County, Howard County has several different fire/rescue talkgroup templates depending upon the radio.  Below is the common zone structure followed by the primary fire and fire incident zones.  The fire/EMS talkaround freqs (positions 14 and 15 in the first five zones) are 868.5125/156.7 which is RINS-1 (COG-1) and 866.8375/156.7 which is RINS-2 (COG-2).  Thanks to Mark Grutzmacher for his assistance with this information.

Zone Name
A Main
B Incident 1
C Incident 2
D Incident 3
F Chat
G Staff
H Anne Arundel County/BWI
I Baltimore County
J Carroll County

K Frederick County
L Montgomery County
M Montgomery County
N Baltimore City
O ITAC RINS/COG (mutual aid chs)
P Prince George's County
S Howard County Coord

This talkgroup lineup is subject to change somewhat with the new portable re-programming.

Zone A Talkgroups (main)
Dec Hex  Usage
11216 2BD A1 FDSP 1 (154.25 simulcast)
11248 2BF A2 FIRE 1
11280 2C1 A3 EMS 1
11312 2C3 A4 HCGH
11856 2E5 A5 FDSP 2
11888 2E7 A6 FIRE 2
11920 2E9 A7 EMS 2       

Zone B Talkgroups (incident 1)
11344 2C5 B1 FIC 10 (154.22 simulcast)
11376 2C7 B2 FIC 11
11408 2C9 B3 FIC 12
11440 2CB B4 FIC 13
11472 2CD B5 FIC 14
11504 2CF B6 FIC 15
11536 2D1 B7 FIC 19     

Zone C Talkgroups (incident 2)
11568 2D3 C1 FIC 20 (154.175 simulcast)
11600 2D5 C2 FIC 21
11632 2D7 C3 FIC 22
11664 2D9 C4 FIC 23
11696 2DB C5 FIC 24
11728 2DD C6 FIC 25
11760 2DF C7 FIC 29

Zone D Talkgroups (incident 3)
11972 2E1 D1 FIC 30
12004 2E3 D2 FIC 31
12036 2E5 D3 FIC 32
12068 2E7 D4 FIC 33
12100 2E9 D5 FIC 34
12132 2EB D6 FIC 35
12164 2ED D7 FIC 39     

Police Dispatch Talkgroups
17616 44D Police 1 North (159.09 simulcast)
17680 451 Police 5 South (155.115 simulcast)

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09-041 - 1185 - 4A1 EMERG - County Emergency Channel
09-042 - 1186 - 4A2 Coord 1 - Coordination 1
09-043 - 1187 - 4A3 Coord 2 - Coordination 2
07-092 - 0970 - 3CA Train 1 - Training Channel 1
07-093 - 0971 - 3CB Train 2 - Training Channel 2
08-021 - 1041 - 411 CO ADM - County Administrators
08-041 - 1057 - 421 PW SUPV - Public Works Supervisors
08-042 - 1058 - 422 PW ADM - Public Works Administrators
08-061 - 1073 - 431 LFILL 1 - Landfill 1
08-062 - 1074 - 432 LFILL 2 - Landfill 2
08-141 - 1137 - 471 CO RIDE 1 - County Ride 1
08-142 - 1138 - 472 CO RIDE 2 - County Ride 2
08-081 - 1089 - 441 ROADS 1 - County Roads 1
08-082 - 1090 - 442 ROADS 2 - County Roads 2
08-101 - 1105 - 451 MAINT 1 - County Maintenance 1
08-102 - 1106 - 452 MAINT 2 - County Maintenance 2
09-021 - 1169 - 491 DRP 1 - Dept of Review & Permitting 1
09-022 - 1170 - 492 DRP 2 - Dept of Review & Permitting 2
09-001 - 1153 - 481 PARKS 1 - State Parks 1
09-002 - 1154 - 482 PARKS 2 - State Parks 2
07-121 - 0993 - 3E1 EM SER 1 - Emergency Services 1
07-122 - 0994 - 3E2 EM SER 2 - Emergency Services 2

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Harford County signed a $23 million contract with Motorola in August for a Motorola Astro Smartnet digital system linked by a Tadiran microwave network.  Users will include the county's fire/EMS, sheriff, and Aberdeen, Havre de Grace and Bel Air police.  Maryland State Police, FBI and the Army at Aberdeen intend to access the system as well.  Three new towers are included in the project.  Plans include mobile data, automatic vehicle location (AVL) and fire siren control.  The system is targeted to be operational during mid-2004 and completed about a year later.

As an interesting side note, the county's volunteer firefighters had used Motorola Minitor II pagers for alerting for 15 years, but switched to US Alert Nova pagers.

The county has so far coordinated nine 800 MHz channels, which include two that are conditional.  They are: 866.25, 866.2875, 866.775, 867.2875, 867.3625, 867.7875, 868.375, 868.775 and 868.8125.

Thanks to Lewis McCannon for keeping us updated on the county's progress.

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A contract with Motorola was signed on October 28, at which point the county was planning for a total switch over within 18 months.  The system could be all APCO P25 digital.

The 9-1-1 center should move into its new and larger communications facility this summer.  The new center is about four miles from the old one, on Audie Lane off Radio Station Road in La Plata.  This is near the old Army radio station tower and fire low-band transmitter site.

Charles County has coordinated eight 866-869 MHz channels.  The regional coordination committee has cleared three channels for use.  They are 866.325, 868.65 and 868.9.  The remaining five channels, 866.625, 867.05, 867.45, 868.675 and 868.925, are pending final approval.  See the August 2001 newsletter for more details.

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Cecil, Maryland's northeastern-most county, proposes building a VHF splinter-channel trunked radio system.  One of the few other VHF trunked systems in the area is what Virginia is considering.  Cecil county has not yet selected a trunking format nor manufacturer, according to one of the county's technicians.  But several frequencies are pending FCC approval.

The base frequencies pending approval are: 154.1375, 154.3325, 154.4075, 154.8825, 154.9275, 155.0025, 155.6025, 155.7525 and 155.9325.  Mobile frequencies are: 154.0625, 154.9425, 155.3175, 158.7225, 158.8575, 158.8725, 158.9625, 159.0075, 159.0975, 159.1125, 159.1275 and 159.1575.  155.475 has also been licensed, presumably for use with the national law enforcement emergency network.

The three sites tentatively selected are on Irish Town Road in North East, 129 East Main Street in Elkton (Emergency Services complex) and Bohemia Avenue in Cecilton.

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Many thanks to Chip Campbell for coming through with Kent County, Maryland's VHF high-band channel plan.  Dispatch and alerting continue on 33.98, and responding units select fire 1, 2 or 3 depending on their location.  Portable radios feature a toggle switch which allows users to select between talkaround (A) and repeater (B) modes.

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Bogner 6db UHF antenna mounted 100-feet up and uses half-inch hardline.  Mark says the feed will stay in place of his Baltimore police simulcast for the foreseeable future.  CAP frequencies he pipes onto the Internet include 324.0 (main CAP coordination freq), 141.75, 320.6 and 252.775.  Also try 143.8 (Hill AFB F-16s TDY to Langley), 139.9 and 234.6 (all AM).  You can e-mail him ( and read about and monitor his site at:   search for "scan mil/air"

Also try CHM and the Southern MD Scanner Forum links:

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The DC Emergency Radio Network (DCERN) promises to be available as an alternate means of communication during an emergency.  DCERN uses 462.5625, that's family radio service (FRS) channel 1 (carrier squelch).  The group's Website,, says if we suffer a terrorist attack, power outage, storm or other problem, DCERN can be a pre-planned way of communicating neighborhood news and information.

Bill Adler, Jr., president of Adler & Robin Books, and a Washington writer is the man behind DCERN.  You can e-mail him at: or call 202-986-9275.  Read more about him at:

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Having trouble finding that scanner-related Web link, or looking for details on a particular model scanner, or can't remember that Web page on which you saw the Montgomery County police codes?  Try visiting Mike Agner's Web pages of links (  You'll find links to radio sites relevant to our region thoughtfully organized by topic.  Many thanks to Mike for his super work!

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It's been a rough year for my mother and me.  In my years of scanner listening, I never ever expected to hear over the scanner my own father taken to the hospital in cardiac arrest.  Dad had been in perfect health, which makes his death hard to accept.  He came to my room to pickup the cell phone before departing for the grocery store.  He was only going to drop off

a couple prescriptions for my mom, and pick up some groceries -- just as he had done many times before.  Frequently I had gone with him shopping, and I frustrated myself that I did not accompany him this trip.  There must have been something I could have done, although I don't know what.

The phone rang at 4:27 p.m.  It was my dad trying to speak.  I could not understand a word he was trying to say.  A woman, who I later learned was a nurse, came on the line, said my father collapsed in the parking lot, was having trouble breathing and an ambulance was on the way.  She later told me she saw him collapse in the parking lot, went in the store to summon help, and returned with the security guard and a grocery store worker.  Dad couldn't even dial the phone, although he could give them our number.

I grabbed my backpack in which I carry an AED -- as I had always feared an emergency like this -- and headed to the Shopper's.  I arrived a couple minutes after the Chillum ambulance at the shopping center which is at the edge of P.G. County.  When the ambulance crew arrived, my dad's condition deteriorated rapidly -- shallow pulse, low blood pressure, trouble breathing, and unconsciousness.  He went into cardiac arrest shortly after being loaded into the ambulance.  Just as I had arrived, the ambulance crew pulled out its AED, and that's when they pushed me back and closed the doors.

Several minutes passed before the medic from Silver Spring arrived.  The paramedic crew transferred its gear into the back of the Chillum ambulance, spent several minutes working on my dad, then left for the hospital.  What little information I gathered pertaining to his condition was what the medic provided for the hospital over the radio.  I had hoped to hear a miracle.  I didn't.  My dad, the 70-year-old working code, was going to Washington Adventist Hospital.  He was one of the best friends I ever had.  Part of me was dying.

I quickly exchanged contact information with the nurse and security guard so we could write them a note of appreciation and rushed home after they helped load dad's groceries in the car.  I picked up my mom and her physician friend who is one of our neighbors, and we headed to the hospital.

After arriving in the emergency room, we were moved into the "quiet room" where we waited for the bad news.  Although we were kept out, our doctor friend was present while the hospital staff tried to revive my dad.  She was a great comfort.  He was a perfect candidate for a "save" since the cardiac arrest was witnessed by the ambulance crew, who had already provided him with an oxygen supply and had applied the AED within two minutes of cardiac arrest, then performed CPR until the medic arrived.

According to hospital records, for 16 minutes the E.R.'s cardiac monitor showed that my dad repeatedly alternated between pulse-less electronic activity (PEA) and ventricular tachycardia (VT).  Resuscitation efforts ceased at 5:11 p.m.  The emergency room physician speculated that dad suffered an intracranial bleed or stroke.

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The Capitol Hill Monitor

6912 Prince Georges Avenue
Takoma Park, MD 20912