Tuesday, December 04, 2007
sponsored by Illini Bank & Jake's Furniture

New 911 Dispatch Center Put to the Test

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[December 04, 2007]  Three days up and running, and the new 911 dispatch center has been put to the test, big-time. The room where 911 emergency calls are received and appropriate help is sent out had just reopened in a new location and with lots of new equipment when the ice storm hit on Saturday. The new center was bombarded with calls all day long, manager Dan Fulscher said.

Saturday was a time to not only to test new equipment, but also a new dispatch position. The normally two-man communications operation was set up for a third dispatcher to be added when there might be high call volume.

Calls began from the time conditions became slick, around 10 a.m. Dispatcher Mark Mann came in at about 11 a.m. on Saturday and filled the third chair. The calls continued all day. "We were jammed with callers and were handling them as they came in," he said. He was glad to say, "We didn't drop any calls."

The dispatchers receive 911 calls for help. With the caller still on the line, they contact the appropriate agencies to send out.

Agencies listen for call-outs. The frequency that everyone listens to was so busy at times that some agencies went to their own isolated frequency for additional communications between themselves.

All area law enforcement, fire and rescue squads, and the paramedics were busy all day.

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Mann, a 30-year police veteran and dispatch supervisor, said that Saturday afternoon was "the worst day ever as far as calls."

Fulscher, the Logan County Emergency Management Agency director and communication room dispatch manager, said that the high number of calls was likely due to a number of factors. The first winter storm is always hectic. We went from a month of warm weather to winter. There was also a high incidence of non-weather-related calls: domestic disputes, health issues, a request for investigation assistance by an out-of-state police agency.

The Logan County Paramedic Association logged 22 responses due to ice-related falls or crashes. They had 32 calls for the day. Weekends, which are higher on average than weekdays, normally have 10 to 15 calls. Some are transfers from hospital to hospital or to other institutions.

As far as the new call center goes, "it tested real well," Fulscher said.


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