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MEMA Home > Programs> Communication> News > Major Step Forward in Emergency Communications

Major Step Forward in Emergency Communications


May 3, 2006


AUGUSTA, MAINE -- Maine has taken a significant step forward to achieving more effective emergency communications through the signing of a landmark agreement among state, county and local response agencies.

The agreement establishes protocols for the temporary use of specific statewide radio frequencies during a major emergency, so that all responding agencies can communicate with each other seamlessly.

The Maine State Police have identified six (6) statewide radio frequencies which can be shared by multiple responding forces in a major emergency. “The Incident Commander in a large-scale emergency will identify the frequency that will be used for the response, and all responding agencies will switch to it,” said Maine Emergency Management Director Art Cleaves. “In other parts of the country, we’ve seen emergency responses break down and lives lost because the radio systems of different groups of responders couldn’t talk to each other. We had an opportunity to address that in Maine simply through establishment of common frequencies and protocols.”

“Make no mistake, we still have a major challenge in improving and enhancing our physical radio systems, but we’ve taken a giant leap forward in coordination, thanks to innovative thinking by the Maine State Police,” Cleaves said.

“State police, local police and fire from mutual aid communities, National Guard, Coast Guard and just about all State agencies will be able to communicate on a common channel with the local Incident Commander. “said Colonel Craig Poulin, Chief of the Maine State Police. “This will greatly improve our ability to respond to citizens’ needs in a major emergency.”

Statewide training will shortly begin on the agreed-upon protocols so that all responders become familiar with the procedures. These protocols will be used only in major emergencies, so that the frequencies, which are also used day-to-day, will not be misused. Because using the plan means a serious incident is in progress, “this is the kind of plan we hope will sit on the shelf and never be used,” Col. Poulin said. “But when we need it, it will be there.”

The plan will be tested in the Portland area in mid-June, in a multi-agency drill expected to include, at a minimum, Portland Police and Fire, .Maine State Police, Cumberland County Sheriffs’ Department, the US Coast Guard and the National Guard.

Signatories to the Agreement include:

  • Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management
  • Maine Department of Public Safety
  • Maine State Police
  • Maine Emergency Management Agency
  • Maine Fire Chiefs Association
  • Maine Chiefs of Police Association
  • Maine Sheriffs Association




Last update: 07/20/10