Equipment & Resources

Rowan Incident Command Unit (RICU)

Our mobile command unit was financed by grants from the Department of Homeland Security and is available to all local government and public safety agencies for any incident or event in Rowan County.

The unit has four fully functional Motorola CRT Console Positions used to relieve the call load in the communications center during large-scale incidents. It is also equipped with five laptop computers; an 800 radio system with interoperability capabilities on UHF, VHF and Low Band; a mobile EOC; TV and DVD player; microwave; coffee maker; and refrigerator. 

Technical Capabilities

The laptop has wireless Internet capabilities to access the county Computer Assisted Dispatch (CAD) system. It also has both cellular phones by Nextel and Sprint as well as a fully functional wireline phone system that can be accessed at several designated locations. The unit has 12 spare 800 portable radios that can be issued out in the field if additional radios are needed in surrounding counties. The emergency lighting system consists of all Strobe and LED totaling 22 different lights strategically located around the bus.

The unique concept of this bus is that it is actually the Telecommunication Center's unit and not under the direct control of law enforcement, fire or Emergency Medical Services (EMS). The unit is housed at EMS Station 85, which is located in downtown Salisbury at:

123 N Shaver Street
Salisbury, NC 28146

Incident Management Team

The County has developed an Incident Management Team, or IMT, which consists of highly trained people in the areas of EMS, Fire Marshall, Haz-Mat, and Communications. RICU is a unit on the run cards for departments and is automatically dispatched to certain incidents when certain priority levels are reached.

Radio Network

Rowan County shares management, operation, and use of an 800 MHz voice and data radio communications system with the City of Salisbury. This system, originally installed by the City in 1991, now provides radio communications for every public safety and most local government agencies in Rowan County with over 1,500 total radios on the system.

In addition to the 800 system, the County maintains several conventional radio transmitters for area/statewide mutual aid, and for tone/voice paging for the volunteer fire departments and rescue squad. These conventional transmitters are linked to the 800 system to allow the highest level of interoperability available...


A current review of similar systems just like our 800 radio system across North Carolina revealed the following:

  • 70% of the population in North Carolina is protected by public safety and local governments that use an 800 MHz trunked radio system in their community today.
  • A total of 25 systems are in operation statewide with two more scheduled to come online in the next year.
  • A total of 80 governmental jurisdictions use those systems to provide needed services to citizens.

Trunked Radio System

For our County where instant, effective and private communications are a vital part of everyday operation, a trunked 2-way radio system provides the coverage, channel efficiency, security and flexibility needed.

Simply put, trunking permits a large number of users to share a relatively small number of communication paths - or trunks. Commercial telephone communication is a wireline version of trunking. This sharing of communication paths is managed automatically by a computer. Channel selections and other decisions normally made by the radio user are made by the central controller, a computerized switch. Channel assignment is automatic and completely transparent to the individual users.

Benefits of Trunking

Trunking offers many benefits, including faster system access, better channel efficiency, more user privacy and the flexibility to expand. Because of its flexibility, a trunked system can expand easily, to accommodate a growing number of users and restructuring as needed. And it can be continuously upgraded with software.

With trunking, our users no longer need to share common RF (radio) channels with other government agencies and compete for air time. In addition, users don't need to monitor a channel in order to make a call on their own.

Because of its efficient channel usage, a trunked radio system affords users reliable, quick access to a channel during emergencies and advanced features to help ensure that these calls will get through. The dynamic regrouping feature allows the system to reassign units so users can talk between departments for special events. Lost or stolen radios can be disabled remotely by the central controller. And the Unit ID feature can identify a radio that has been keyed by the user, even if he or she is unable to speak. The Telephone Interconnect feature even enables users to receive and make telephone calls directly from the radio.

Key Benefits of 800 Trunking

  • Equipment cost savings - operating one system as opposed to multiple individual systems.
  • Increased technology - affords users abilities not available on older or smaller conventional systems.
  • Agency interoperability - uses are no longer limited to communicate with just "their" users. The system allows connectivity to virtually any other system user.
  • Increased level of safety - each radio is individually identified by use, issued agency and, in most cases, who the radio is issued to.

System & Technical Information

The system consists of a single site Motorola Smartnet II 800 Mhz trunked radio system operating on 20 channels. The geographic location of the site allows for 95% coverage of the entire county with a portable radio. Additionally, through a statewide users group (NCSUN) agreement, selected radios have roaming capability to access adjacent Smartnet II systems in adjoining counties. Backup capabilities include a fully functional 5 channel 800 National Mutual Aid conventional repeater system that provides general countywide coverage.

Initially constructed as a 5 channel system in 1991, the system was gradually increased to 8 channels over the next three years. In 1994 a joint effort between the City of Salisbury and Rowan County built the system out to its current 20 channel capacity. In this configuration, the system can very well adequately support 2,000 radio users.

The site is controlled from either of two communications centers located at the Salisbury Police Department or the Rowan County Telecommunications Center.

Radio Console Positions

All radio console positions (four at Salisbury Police and 6 at Rowan County Telcom) are Motorola CentraCom Elite consoles. Each position contains direct access to all system talk groups and available features such as push to talk radio ID, paging, call alerting, talk group and conventional radio channel patching, system-wide or group-wide call, and many others. Consoles are mouse trackball "driven" giving the user quick and easy operation and use.

The system allows both mobile and portable radios to make and receive telephone calls (telephone interconnect). Critical public safety users such as law enforcement applications also have digital voice security available to selected radios to ensure communications can be totally private and secure when needed. Individual radios allow "private call" ability to any other radio in the system, regardless of agency use or assignment.

Emergency Situations

All radios system-wide have a programmed emergency button to allow a user to "declare" a life-threatening situation and to access priority to the system. Once activated, the radio that has declared automatically switches to a pre-designated dispatch channel dependent on primary agency use of the radio. Emergencies are displayed as audible and visual warnings to telecommunicators, who verify the nature and location of the emergency and take appropriate action to supply the assistance required.

System Watch allows managers to view and track all system activity live as it happens. Automated daily reports and statistics assist in the review of system operation and maintenance.