FARMINGTON – Emergency responder agencies have submitted grant applications in hopes of upgrading an aging Franklin County emergency dispatching computer software and records-management system.

County commissioners gave the OK in March for the county to join with other entities to pursue grants. Franklin County Firemen’s Association, University of Maine at Farmington Department of Public Safety and Farmington Police Department have applied for grants to get a new emergency network system.

UMF police Chief Ted Blais told commissioners recently that he has applied for a $799,000 federal grant that would help set up the county law enforcement agencies and emergency communications system with a new program.

UMF, Jay, Carrabassett Valley and Rangeley police all use the Information Management Corp. system they bought through a Department of Homeland Security grant about three years ago, Blais said.

Police in those towns use the system that allows them to communicate with other law enforcement agencies, keep records, write reports and search records from their office computer or cruiser laptop.

Besides police, there are also sections to serve fire, rescue, jail and emergency medical services, Blais said.

Stephan Bunker, a state communications operation manager, told commissioners in March there are more advanced technology systems that provide better services. He encouraged emergency providers to take some time looking over computer programs to make sure the one chosen would meet their needs and be compatible with systems already in place.

Blais demonstrated portions of the Information Management Corp.’s applications to commissioners on May 19 using a hookup from his cell phone in the meeting room, which connected to his office computer on the university campus.

The communities that already have the Information Management Corp.’s program would like whatever program chosen to be compatible to it.

Blais made a plug for Information Management Corp. during his demonstration. He also assured fellow chiefs that they would be able to use their own program options on it and decide what information they want made public.

Joining together would create a stronger communication network and save money in maintenance costs when the costs are shared, Blais said.

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