New E-911 Call Center Holds Open House
The new E-911 Call Center is now in full operation in its new location on East Benjamin Drive in New Martinsville. To celebrate its opening the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce performed a ribbon cutting ceremony on June 26 with the help of the Wetzel County Commission. The volunteers and staff members of the 911 Center then offered tours during an open house from 1-5 p.m. complete with refreshments.
While much of the equipment is still the same, some upgrades were made during the move. Senior dispatcher Gary Glasscock described many updates and additions to the new location to better aid the dispatchers, emergency crews, and law enforcement, and in turn, the public.
The center has three consoles that hold the user-friendly Computer Aide Dispatch (CAD) system, and radio and phone systems. The CAD software is upgraded regularly and makes record keeping much more efficient.
Every EMS, fire, and law enforcement unit they dispatch is kept in one file and can be easily located by the click of a mouse. The system also sends reminders to the console operator to check on crews out on a call. Additionally, the CAD system assigns an incident number to every call the 911 center takes. The consoles also run a TeleType system which runs registrations, criminal background checks, and sends messages to the US, Canada, and Mexico through the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE).
With the new CAD mapping the 911 center can also track an open cell phone by GPS coordinates. If there was an abduction and the victim had a phone and he or she was to dial 911, then place the phone in their pocket, the phone could be tracked by the mapping software. Similarly, the 911 center has aerial mapping capability 24 hours a day. The dispatcher can see where the emergency is, look up the quickest access route into an emergency, and identify which emergency crews are available and closest.
A special feature the CAD system has is the ability to look up equipment resources. For example if an outside agency was to call and ask if a fire department had a certain piece of equipment, the 911 dispatcher will be able to see what each response vehicle has on it just by the click of a mouse.
Headsets have been installed with the new equipment and have allowed the dispatchers to work hands-free at all times. With the old system, the dispatcher would need to hold the phone with one hand or with the neck and shoulder.
With the new 911 recording equipment dispatchers can play 911 calls and radio back during an emergency. Also, the center has a broadcasting system on AM frequency for emergency public notices. This system was paid for through a Homeland Security grant; the rest of the renovations and upgrades came primarily through 911 funding.
Lastly, the center now has a UPC battery backup system that will run all electrical circuits in the 911 center for up to 30 minutes during power failure. During that time the on-site generator will automatically start up and provide the whole building with power. The generator has its own 500 fuel tank and will provide power for days.
Fortunately, 911 is now located out of the flood plain and in the event of an emergency, emergency responders as well as 911 officials have access to the EOC 24 hours a day.
The technologically advanced equipment would still be little help if it weren’t for the dedicated volunteers and staff at the center. The 911 center employs five dispatchers, all being highly trained in the emergency services field. Dispatchers go through several hours of training during their career. The probationary dispatcher must complete a 40-hour basic telecommunication course, 40-hour weapons course at the West Virginia State Police Academy, along with several hours of call taking and equipment training in the 911 center. Out of the five, four are firefighters with two being nationally certified and three of them are EMTs.
The 911 center individuals have over 75 years in combined experience in emergency services.