Prior to 2004, radio communications among police, fire, emergency medical service, and other Minnesota city and county government agencies was possible within each county or between counties on one devoted statewide radio channel. After 2004, additional interoperable channels became available for emergency personnel to communicate with each other based on the needs of the situation.
After September 11, 2001, Minnesota public safety agencies realized the benefits of multiple channel resourcing for a multi-agency response. As funding became available to expand the “metro” 800 MHz radio system statewide, The Minnesota Statewide Radio Board was chartered in 2004 and the statewide radio system given the acronym name: A.R.M.E.R. (Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response)
The new statewide system divided regions of the state into districts governed by Regional Advisory Committees (RACs) and Regional Radio Boards (RRBs). Ramsey County is in the Metro Region and our RRB is the Metropolitan Emergency Services Board or MESB
The Ramsey County Board passed resolution 2003-167 in 2004 providing for the construction of the Ramsey County subsystem of the Metropolitan 800 MHz radio system. Mounds View, Roseville and New Brighton were the first cities to use the new system in August and September of 2006. Other agencies quickly followed with the first phase of migration from the old systems throughout the county to the new system completed in the fall of 2007.
On August 1, 2007, the I35W bridge collapse tested the interoperability and capacity of the statewide ARMER system. For the first time, all Ramsey County agencies responding to a major incident coordinated on the same radio system. Although St. Paul Police Department radio installation and user training was incomplete, enough 800 MHz interoperable radios were available for unhindered assistance during rescue and recovery. All of the other responding agencies to the emergency had interoperable radio communications.
The September 2008 Republican National Convention in Saint Paul put this radio system to the test again. Multiple federal, police, sheriff, ambulance and other agencies communicated over shared radio talk groups on the interoperable system. The new system enabled efficient use of radio transmissions through the RCECC to coordinate management of several large incidents.