Public Safety Radio System Handles Record-Breaking Calls During Snow Emergencies

Feb 12, 2010, 15:30 ET from Pennsylvania Office of Administration

HARRISBURG, Pa., Feb. 12 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The commonwealth's public safety radio system handled record-breaking traffic as first responders, including PennDOT, PA State Police and local officials, were able to communicate without interruption during the recent back-to-back snow emergencies.

"We are very pleased with the system's performance during the storms. It is vitally important that all of our men and women out there working in dangerous conditions have a reliable and robust communications network," said Charles Brennan, deputy secretary for Public Safety Radio. "Communications is absolutely essential and the system delivered."

The radio system, or PA-STARNet, managed a staggering volume of calls as state crews worked around the clock to manage the emergency. Data collected from the two storms that raked the state this week show that:

  • During the Feb. 5-7 storm, PennDOT and PSP had a combined 536,000 calls on the system. In all, 721,000 total calls were processed, including calls between local first responders, power companies, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and the PA Turnpike Commission.
  • During the Feb. 10 storm, PennDOT and PSP had a combined 323,000 calls in a 24-hour period, and a total of 430,743 calls by all system users were processed.

By comparison, the weekend of January 29-31— a more typical weekend —PennDOT and PA State Police had a combined 165,000 calls on the system.

PA-STARNet enables seamless interoperability so that emergency personnel on different radio systems can quickly communicate with one another, allowing for more efficient responses to emergencies.

Brennan noted that the system's coverage was temporarily impacted by the power outages in Greene County.

"Many areas in Greene County were without electricity most of the week.  While this affected some small areas on the system, our backup generators enabled us to retain most of the radio coverage in the county," Brennan said.

The PA-STARNet is one of the largest public safety communications systems in North America, and is one of the largest private microwave networks anywhere.

For more information on the system, visit and click on Public Safety Radio on the left.

Media contact:  Mia DeVane, 717-783-1116

SOURCE Pennsylvania Office of Administration