April 10, 2012 —
National Park Service (NPS) officials have taken on the important task of improved coordination of emergency response throughout the river valley, following a series of drownings and other incidents last year that highlighted the need for better communications.
NPS chief ranger Joe Hinkes informed members of the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) about current initiatives during their meeting on April 5. Hinkes has been working with emergency management coordinators and commissioners for the counties along the Delaware River to come up with ways to better coordinate emergency efforts.
The NPS has a 24-hour emergency dispatch out of its Delaware Water Gap facility. County 911 centers are connected with the NPS dispatch center. NPS is working to overcome technological issues related to radio communications and frequencies in use by various emergency responders.
As regional fire departments upgrade their radio systems, the NPS will test a common frequency this spring that should enable responders to share a frequency when on scene in an emergency.
To improve radio coverage throughout the corridor, various options are being explored, including the possibility of co-locating radio tower sites and the potential use of satellite phones.
“I wish it were a lot easier than this, but there are various systems being used,” said Hinkes. “We’re making the best of it, given what we have to work with.”
NPS officials are also working on an expanded safety-messaging program and outreach initiatives in an effort to eliminate drowning incidents on the Delaware River. Recent meetings with regional liveries were described as very positive.
The UDC meets at 7 p.m. on the first Thursday of every month at 211 Bridge Street in Narrowsburg. The public is welcome. For more information visit www.upperdelawarecouncil.org  or call 845/252-3022.