911 nerve center flips switch at new location

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By Carol A. Clark

At 3 a.m. today all emergency calls from the community were routed to a large space that has now become the county’s 911 nerve center inside the renovated police headquarters at the Justice Center on Trinity Drive.


Before the move, calls were fielded at a location within Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Emergency Operations Center.

“The change to the public will be seamless because the same operators will be handling the calls,” said Capt. Randy Foster, who coordinated the move.

Both police and fire calls are now being routed into the new facility.

“In addition to emergency and non-emergency calls, the help window in the police department lobby will be operated by the same dispatch staff and will remain open 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Foster said. “This move will definitely increase our efficiency of operation.”

Emergency Dispatch Center Supervisor Kate Stoddard said she is delighted to be operating out of the new location.

“When we’re fully staffed, we have 14 dispatchers with typically three on duty during any given shift,” Stoddard said. “Each work station has five PCs running with seven monitors plus radio systems, recording and audio systems and a 9170 uninterrupted backup power supply that holds 3 kVA’s (Kilovolt-Amperes) of power.”

The new dispatch center houses six operating stations, the infrastructure of which was planned as part of the overall Justice Center building project.

Foster said that preparations for the move have been in play for the last two months. Work crews installed the electrical system, phone line extensions, county network extensions and extensions for the radio system.

“Early tomorrow morning the 911 trunks will be cut over and we will complete the final physical move of equipment by the end of this week,” Foster said Tuesday.

The Consolidated Dispatch Center first began operating in the Emergency Operations Center in 2006 at LANL’s Technical Area 69 in collaboration with the National Nuclear Security Administration and the laboratory.

The Los Alamos Fire Department dispatchers eventually moved their emergency response operation over to the CDC and in 2007, began utilizing an advanced emergency medical software system called ProQA. The system takes into account the non-visual nature of the medical dispatch environment, where patients must be assessed and treated by remote control. It meets or exceeds international standards for emergency medical dispatching, said Assistant Fire Chief/Fire Marshal Mike Thompson at the time.

ProQA provides the community with the latest in pre-hospital patient care and during the course of an emergency medical call, guides dispatchers through the process of collecting vital information, choosing the proper dispatch level and instructing the caller with medically approved protocols until the appropriate dispatched units arrive at the scene.

“Before, we always dispatched a rescue, a medic and an engine,” Thompson said. “In contrast, this system is a very scientific approach with how the questions mold quality answers.”

Foster added that the dispatch system is designed to provide top service and speed with correct dispatch levels typically determined within one or two minutes, adding that when a person is panicked, a minute can seem like an eternity.

For police, fire and medical emergencies, call 911 and for non-emergencies, call 662-8222.