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Pa. EMS officials concerned after decision to encrypt police radio calls

Starting in November, when anyone, including responders, listens to a police scanner, they may hear muddled voices

By PoliceOne Staff

LANCASTER, Pa. — Lancaster County EMS officials are concerned after the county decided to encrypt police radio calls.

FOX43 reported that the decision means when anyone, including emergency responders, listens to police scanners, the calls will be muddled.

EMS officials requested to be exempt from the encryption, despite supporting the decision to keep some calls away from the public and media.

"What we feel is that EMS should not be put into the same umbrella as the public. We're out on the streets, we're on the forefront with the police department,” Lancaster County EMS council president Darrell Fisher said. “Any large situation or any violent scene that requires an ambulance, we're there with them."

Lancaster Police Chief Keith Sadler said emergency responders will still get dispatcher updates.

"Our radio dispatch, the county dispatch in Lancaster County allows us to communicate with them and vice versa. So they don't necessarily have to be on the same band as we are," Chief Sadler said.

Responders said communicating with dispatchers takes more time.

"So if they're on a scene that maybe we're traveling to and they update saying now the patient is violent or the scene is unsafe, we don't approach that scene, where now those messages can be delayed seconds or even up to a minute at a time,” Fisher said.

Fisher said he has not received a response to his request from commissioners.

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