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"Can You Hear Me Now?" - Hearing Health & The Public Safety Telecommunicator

The art of listening by the dispatcher demands a high level of hearing. To do less would be an injustice to the dispatcher, the employer and the citizen who might only get one chance in a lifetime to call 9-1-1 for help! After many years in this field, I feel that the time has come to bring this deficiency to the forefront.

12 Things I Learned About Dispatchers on the Internet... kind of.

Just before Thanksgiving last year, an article entitled 12 Things That You Definitely Didn't Know About 911 Dispatchers hit the web, appearing on several sites simultaneously. Throughout the holiday season, this posting was linked to and commented on in social media circles frequented by folks from our profession. As suggested by the title, the piece promises to provide a dozen bits of insight into our world for consumption by the lay person. For the most part, though, the twelve things...

2-Alarm Fire Destroys Cupertino (CA) Home

On Monday, May 23, 2011 just after 8:30 AM, units of the Santa Clara County (CA) Fire Department responded to reports of a garage fire in the 800 block of Rose Blossom Drive in the city of Cupertino. Upon their arrival firefighters were confronted with heavy smoke and fire showing from a one-story single family dwelling.

20 Years Later: Remembering Oklahoma City

April 19, 1995: Twenty years ago, 9-1-1 Magazine covered the Oklahoma City bombing aftermath from the perspective of the 9-1-1 dispatchers who were working that morning, from the report of the first (of eleven) FEMA Urban Search & Rescue Task Forces to respond to begin rescue operations, and from the perspective of critical incident stress management for responders.

20 Years Later: Remembering Oklahoma City - The Communications Center Impact: CISM

Members of the Los Angeles County Fire Department Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) Task Force, including county firefighters and civilian physicians, canine search specialists and structural engineers who served for ten days in Oklahoma, found that participating in their department’s well-orchestrated Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) program provided them with a clear awareness of the impact of traumatic exposure, strengthening their ability to heal the heartache.

20 Years Later: Remembering Oklahoma City - The Communications Center Impact: EMS

This morning had started for EMSA/AMR headquarters with anxiety. An arson fire had been set in a storage garage of our building the previous evening. Two days earlier a burglary had been reported in the building. A comment had been made: "What's next, a bomb?" Our building is five blocks from ground zero. When the blast occurred I thought, "My God, they did it! They have blown up our building!" It only took a few seconds to realize that our building was not the blast sight. The blast...

20 Years Later: Remembering Oklahoma City - The Communications Center Impact: Fire

The April 19 shift began like any normal shift. The daily station audio and radio tests were done. We received a few EMS calls and dispatched companies for first-aid. Everything changed at 9:02 AM. Our office is located six blocks west of the incident. Almost immediately, all the phones were ringing. Approximately 98% of the phone calls we were receiving were from automatic alarm companies. The explosion set off alarms as far away as 16 miles.

20 Years Later: Remembering Oklahoma City - The Communications Center Impact: Police

I was in a meeting with another supervisor and our 9-1-1 coordinator, a police lieutenant). At 9:02 AM a dispatcher paged on our in-house phone system for a supervisor to come to the operations floor. Immediately I left the meeting and walked the few feet to the operations floor where I was told that there had been an explosion downtown...

20 Years Later: Remembering Oklahoma City - The Communications Center Impact: USAR

The bombing of the Federal Building on Oklahoma City set into motion a tremendous emergency response, from the local public safety crews to federal emergency management personnel, including Urban Search And Rescue (USAR) teams from across the nation. The first USAR team to arrive in Oklahoma City was that of the Phoenix, Arizona, Fire Department.

2013 PSAP Survey: Stratus Talks About the Results

Late last year Stratus created a 19-question survey that featured questions on call volume, staffing, next-generation 9-1-1 plans, use of virtualization technologies, system outages and more. With the Survey completed and results analyzed, 9-1-1 magazine interviewed Dave LeClair, Senior Direct of Strategy & Product Management for Stratus Technologies, to detail the results they found - and what they mean to PSAP technology and operations for 2014.

2014 California Mobile Command Center Rally a Success in Sacramento

In cooperation with the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and the Northern California Chapter of APCO Int’l (NAPCO), the California Fire Chiefs Association (Communications Section - Northern Division) hosted its 6th Annual free mobile communications/command vehicle rally on Wednesday May 7th in Sacramento. The event was held at the City’s north Corporation Yard. More than 30 mobile command vehicles of all shapes and sizes attended the annual event...

25 Years of 9-1-1 Magazine

This last winter marked the 25th Anniversary of 9-1-1 Magazine - a quarter century since this independent journal first saw the light of print and paper. And while it has somewhat reluctantly left its printed origins behind in favor of the light of modern electronically pixilated e-publishing on the World Wide Web, its inherent mission statement hasn't changed all that much...

4 Decisive Public Safety Communication Technology Trends For 2015

Dave George, President of Pryme Radio Products and a Wireless World Top 100 Wireless Technology Expert, unveils his annual public safety communication trends forecast & new products

4 Ways to Improve Morale in a 9-1-1 Dispatch Center Over the Holidays

Motivation and overall morale in the dispatch center are difficult to maintain and with the encroaching holidays, one thing is for certain, 9-1-1 dispatchers are called to be at the top of their game. Holidays can be a very busy time for 9-1-1; burnout, sickness and just genuine lack of motivation can be huge problems causing 9-1-1 centers everywhere to struggle. What can you do to help motivate and maybe inspire your dispatchers this holiday season?

4G 9-1-1: It's APPed To Get Interesting

The proliferation of new applied data resources and new applications is going to be an impact of incredible proportion for E9-1-1 since Wireless E9-1-1. This will affect our systems in network, hardware, software, administration/management, training, and funding... 4G refers to the fourth generation of cellular wireless standards... a comprehensive and secure IP-based solution, high usability for any technology...

5 Ways To Improve Your Emergency Mass Notification System

Emergency response teams, public safety, and law enforcement organizations are increasingly turning to emergency mass notification systems. But simply deploying a mass notification system does not by default mean you are fully maximizing the benefits it can deliver. Here are five key ways that your organization can improve the effectiveness and ROI of notifications and alerts.

5 Years Later: Ground Zero, Grants, & Great Intentions

The attacks and subsequent loss of responders helped to once again elevate the public's respect of the entire Fire Service. But with great respect comes great responsibility and five years later some agencies have found that the greater the height, the greater the fall as the "mileage" gained after 9/11 has come back to haunt them in many ways never imagined.

50 Years of 9-1-1: A Message from the Deaf and the Hard of Hearing community

For me, it is amazing to watch how much 911 services have evolved in the past 30 years for deaf, deaf-blind and hard of hearing community members...

50 Years of 9-1-1: Inside Perspectives on How Far We've Come and Hopes for the Future

February 16, 2018 will mark five decades since the first historic 9-1-1 call was made in Haleyville, Alabama. 9-1-1 has changed a lot in those 50 years. To commemorate the occasion, I asked 9-1-1 professionals across North America about the biggest changes theyve witnessed during their careers and their hopes for the future of 9-1-1. Heres what they had to say:

50 Years of 9-1-1: Recollections from the Front Line

With today marking the 50th anniversary of 9-1-1, its a good time to recognize recognize the individuals whove been taking all those calls for 50 years 9-1-1 telecommunicators.

50 Years of 9-1-1: Technology Fuels Ongoing Evolution of 9-1-1

5th Annual California Mobile Command Center Rally a Success in Sacramento

The Fifth Annual California Mobile Command Center Rally took place on May 8th in Sacramento. With 30 state-of-the-art mobile command and communication centers of all shapes and sizes, from law enforcement, fire, EMS, military, utility companies and other support agencies, this year's open-vehicle display focused on interoperability, networking, and the interactive capabilities of diverse disciplines in major incident command and coordination.

7 Traits Of A Chaotic Workplace - And 7 Great Resources For Overcoming Them

9-1-1 Communications Center teams work like well-oiled precision tools when a critical call comes in or the phones and radios are swamped on a full moon Friday night. But we often hear that teamwork comes to an abrupt halt when it comes to getting along or to be a team off the phones and radio. Here are 7 Deadly Habits and 7 Useful Tips for more teamwork off the phones and radios and 7+ recommended eBooks for your professional library, independent learning, or In Service Training.

7-Alarm Fire Guts Abandoned Psych Hospital in Middletown, NY

A seven-alarm fire gutted the hospital building of the former Middletown Psychiatric Center in New York on Sunday, July 12th, drawing hundreds of firefighters from miles around. The facility has been abandoned for years, according to news reports.

7th Annual Calif Mobile Command Center Rally Exhibits Technology & Teamwork as Part of APCO Western Regional Conference in Sacramento

A key feature of this year’s Rally was what we believe is history's first-ever Parade of the Command Vans. The vehicles were assembled into their spotting order, and at 7AM, with lights flashing on all vehicles that had them, the convoy proceeded the eight miles through morning freeway traffic to the Rally Site. This kind of parade is unprecedented for Mobile Comm Vans as far as we know, and generated a lot of interest and photo taking....

8 Ways Social Media Can Help Disaster Response Teams In A Hurricane

During Hurricane Sandy, more than 20+ million tweets were posted about the disaster. iRevolutions calculates that "Even if only 0.001% of these tweets were useful, and only half of these were accurate, this would still mean over 1,000 real-time and informative tweets, or some 15,000 words. That is the equivalent of a 25-page, single-space document exclusively composed of fully relevant, actionable intelligence.

8th Annual California Mobile Communications Center Rally Held in May

Twenty-one local, state, federal, and private agencies gathered on Thursday, May 7th, 2016 in Sacramento, California, to display their mobile communications centers, share innovations they have developed, and learn from recent experiences in concurrent classroom presentations. It was the 8th Annual California Mobile Communications Center Rally, an event which was created in 2009 by the California Fire Chiefs Association, Communications section, and which has grown in popularity and attendance...

9-1-1 Center Staffing & Standards: Stop Pointing Fingers and Give Us a Hand!

Unfortunately, when centers are barely adequately staffed to meet the challenges of a slow day, it doesn't take much to tip the delicate balance between promptness and delay...

9-1-1 Dispatch Technology and the New Situational Awareness

In the past, emergency responders have been satisfied with only receiving basic, essential data for a call, such as the nature of the situation and the location to which they were responding. Over the past 15 years, major advancements in public safety technology systems have allowed first responder dispatchers to provide better information to enhance the decision-making process...

9-1-1 Dispatch Technology Lagging - And Susceptible to Hacking

The United States is experiencing a dispatch technology, computer-aided dispatch, and Next Generation 9-1-1 crisis. Be assured, that isn't merely our opinion. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler reported that to Congress earlier this year. According to Wheeler, "Public safety, as embodied by 9-1-1, is dangerously close to a crisis as the digital world passes it by - 21st Century lifesaving is being blocked by 20th Century technology."

9-1-1 For Sale: The Politics of the Public/Private Partnership

Overall, we've learned to deal, or at least make do with the technology, and the private firms seemed to at least offer some benefit to a unique niche in our population that we were under serving. Recently, however, there seems to be a new trend toward selling services with a broader appeal. But as appealing as they may seem to the public to whom they are marketed, some are raising questions within the 9-1-1 community...

9-1-1 Leadership Values

How important is a leader? What is the leader's role with negativity? What are the tools you can use to overcome this problem should it affect your Comm Center? What are the group dynamics of people who have no (or poor) leadership?

9-1-1 Magazine: A History

In honor of our 25th Anniversary, take a walk with us through 9-1-1 Magazine's illustrious past!... 9-1-1 Magazine was the brainchild of publisher Jim Voelkl, whose family had owned Official Publications, Inc. (OPI) since 1945, publishing periodicals for, public safety and veterans associations and various other organizations. With numerous trade magazines serving the needs of the various components of public safety - Firehouse, Fire Engineering, American Fire Journal, Fire Chief, Police...

9-1-1 Operations Continue Despite Lightning Strike to Lapeer County's Lifeline Dispatch Center

Electrical storms always cause an increase in emergency calls to 911 as trees are brought down, localized flooding occurs and buildings are hit. Nationwide these calls come in to dispatch centers where trained public safety specialists mobilize emergency services to protect lives and property. Lapeer County is no different. If dispatchers become disconnected from emergency systems it impairs their ability to make vital and timely life and death decisions: when a disaster or emergency strikes,...

9-1-1 Trainer Professional Pride Finds Value in Expansive New Web Site

Long-time 9-1-1 trainer and developer of 9-1-1 simulators for dispatcher training Professional Pride announces a newly revamped an expanded web site, and in the process has learned a lot about the value of the Web in better supporting clients as well as their business.

9-1-1 Turns 50: A Grand Lady Comes of Age

Fifty? You cant be serious! Even though its not polite to ask someone their age, your birth was really big news around the public safety family, so everybody pretty well knows...

9-1-1, What Is MY Emergency? - My Journey Through PTSD

...I moved on with my life, and took my children with me to safety. Became ferociously independent. Felt wonderful. New life, new home, new job. My new job was as a 9-1-1 dispatcher. I knew that the job would be stressful, but I was an old pro at stress. Or so I thought. I had no idea the extent of stress that was heading my way...

9-1-1: An Emerging 'Hidden' Career

Why is it that Police, Fire and EMS in almost every community have college and High School criminal justice, fire science, or emergency medical training, but no such career training for 9-1-1 since every police, fire, or EMS agency has a corresponding number of emergency telecommunicators to hire?

9th Annual California Mobile Command Center Rally: Emergency Management, Communications, & Coordination on Wheels

A Case For Quality Assurance

With the advent of either elective or mandatory certification of Telecommunicators (e.g. call takers and dispatchers), there is a definite need to be aware that to ensure a successful ongoing plan for this impact on E9-1-1 centers (PSAPs), rules should be adopted that institute quality assurance requisites for both the program itself as well as for the certified personnel. Without continued bench measures the program is but a shell of the desired intent of the operational need.

A Different Kind of CAD System Security Update: Best Practices in Legacy Migration

Call it ironic - but it wasn't funny. It was 2009, and a simple operating system security update took down the 9-1-1 call system we spent the past 19 months trying to migrate. Had this been in production, it would have put our city's 110,000 citizens at risk. Eight hours went by before we were able to roll back the update and get the code functioning again. Clearly this wasn't going to cut it.

A Hidden Benefit of Cooperative Purchasing: Vendor and Contract Management

There has been a lot of discussion about how cooperative purchasing and co-ops help the public sector save time and money. However, one little known advantage of purchasing through a co-op is vendor and contract management. Well-run cooperative purchasing organizations are active in managing contracts and vendor performance.

A Hybrid Wireless Location Solution Could Potentially Save More Lives

A primary reason to consider a hybrid technology solution for indoor E9-1-1 location is that the strengths and weaknesses of U-TDOA and A-GPS are remarkably complementary: A-GPS works best in rural and remote areas, while U-TDOA works best in suburban and urban environments. Working together, both technologies create the optimum solution for locating wireless 9-1-1 calls.

A Manager's Guide to Dispatch Chairs

Few things are anatomically further from yet closer to a telecommunicator's heart than his or her... well... er, seat. After all, even in jurisdictions that utilize adjustable consoles, chances are that a good portion of the shift is spent sitting down. And, with overtime and twelve hour shifts a daily reality for some, poorly designed or constructed seating can be a real pain in the; well, you get the picture.

A Model of Communications Interoperability

In 1934, the first Orange County (CA) public safety radio system was put on the air. KGHX was a one-way system, transmitting messages from headquarters to the field. The obvious problems with one-way communications prompted the "mobile radio" to be established just three years later.

Accreditation and Quality Assurance

The first of a two-part series on Accreditation and Quality Assurance, Cory Friend, Accreditation Coordinator at PowerPhone, Inc., discusses the Accreditation process, including the agency self-evaluation. The components of a successful Accreditation process and the benefits to be derived will be explored. The second article will detail the importance of Quality Assurance to the Accreditation process and the steps necessary to implement an effective QA program.

Accreditation and Quality Assurance PART 2

The second of a two-part series on Accreditation and Quality Assurance, Cory Friend, Accreditation Coordinator at PowerPhone, Inc., discusses the importance of Quality Assurance to the Accreditation process and the steps necessary to implement an effective QA program. Friend's first article detailed the Accreditation process, including the agency self-evaluation, the components of a successful Accreditation process and the benefits to be derived.

Active Shooting Response: The Call Taker's Role

In every class I teach, I drive home the point that the first person on the scene of every crime, fire and medical emergency is the initial call taker. It's no different when the call for help involves an active shooting incident. When a frightened voice on the other end of the phone is looking for help, you are right on the scene. When the phones start to light up, will you be prepared?

Ada County 9-1-1 Center Plans for the Future

There's hardly a person today who doesn't have a smartphone. At the touch of a screen, the world is in the palm of our hand, but 9-1-1 centers have unfortunately fallen behind in most technology advancements... With training advancements, new training methods and different skill sets must be utilized to succeed in this new advanced environment.

Add Movement To Your Day With These Exercises for Desk-Bound 9-1-1 Dispatchers

You're connected to a desk and a chair all day and you may be thinking, "But I've got a height adjustable desk. I stand throughout the day--that's enough." Sorry friends, standing at work helps, but it's definitely not enough. While there are many benefits to taking the time to stand at work, it's movement throughout the day that is the real trick to fighting off high levels of blood sugar and cholesterol.

Addressing Address Data that Works for You

We rely on addressing in multiple, everyday situations - mailing, navigation, emergency response and others. Addresses are assigned to single and multi-family homes, apartment buildings, industrial and commercial structures, and government structures. In some areas, addresses are assigned to identify infrastructure facilities, such as communication towers, fire hydrants, utility poles, bridges, and boat ramps.

Addressing Diverse Human Behavior Issues in the New Era Of Multi-Layered Emergency Communications

The flood of new technology makes it easier than ever to reach out and communicate with someone, right? Think again. While it's true that communicating with "someone" may indeed be easier, achieving dependable communications with "everyone" on a moment's notice and in an emergency crisis is at least as much of a challenge as ever. So why is that?

Addressing Misunderstandings About Text-to-9-1-1: An Interview with NENA's Barbara Jaeger

The public's desire to contact 9-1-1 by the latest of communications technologies - SMS texting, in this case - has led to new technologies that allow callers to report crimes via text message to 9-1-1 PSAPs... The availability of this technology means that the 9-1-1 Centers are going to have to find a way to receive this new form of texted 9-1-1 call... 9-1-1 magazine recently interviewed Barbara Jaeger, ENP, President of the NENA Executive Board, about this important issue...

Advancements in Dispatch Technology and the Optimized Workflow

Advice from Michigan Emergency Center on Preparing Communities for Natural Disasters

Natural disasters can be forecast to a degree but the fascinating, yet scary thing about weather is that it can still be very, very unpredictable. For this reason, its important for emergency managers, first responders, and communities to be well prepared in advance of an impending storm to avoid panic and widespread chaos.

Aerial Policing: Use Drones for Faster Emergency Response Time

By flying a camera-equipped drone to monitor a situation or event from above, law enforcement officials gain "eyes in the sky" to augment the boots on the ground and stationary cameras, creating new levels of security and ensuring a faster response. This is helpful even in areas that have cameras. Stationary ground cameras have limitations on the perspective and angle they can capture, and police cant be everywhere at once - so tethered UAVs flying overhead create an extra layer of support.

After the Storms Move Out, Verizon Moves in to Support Public Safety and Relief Efforts

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma severely tested critical networks and infrastructure in two states - emergency response communications are critical before, during and after major storms, and Verizon's support team ensured its network proved it was up to the task in both states.

Aftermath: Lakewood LODD

December 8, 2009, 0600 hours. McChord Air Force Base, Tacoma, Washington. All flights in and out were suspended at this busy Washington State Air Force base to allow almost 3,000 law enforcement vehicles onto the flight line. Row upon row of patrol cars, marked and unmarked, fire rigs, ambulances and motorcycles waited silently in the icy darkness . At 1003 hours, the first vehicles in the procession began ten miles of mourning to honor four Lakewood Police officers slain in one awful...

Alternatives to Traditional Ambulances: Lessons from Haiti's Earthquake

In the five-plus years since the 2010 Haitian earthquake decimated much of Port-au-Prince’s already fragile healthcare system, the nation has been making a concerted effort to implement a formal emergency medical services (EMS) system...Despite all the effort and assistance, not a lot of progress is being made.

Ambiences & Acoustics: Improving Communication in 9-1-1 Centers

... Because there are no walls separating the zones, the noise pollutes the entire facility. As more dispatchers log on with competing calls, the voices along with the ambient noise level in the room combine and ricochet off of the hard surfaces, elevating the noise levels and a cacophony self-perpetuates to the point of breaking. Communication becomes strained, patience wears thin and efficiencies suffers. Tempers flare, mistakes are made, disasters occur.

America Under Attack: Emergency Response in New York City

From the Archives: Everywhere 9-1-1 lines were jammed with worried callers. Fear and despair, failure of communication networks, even destruction of New York City's emergency management bunker in the World Trade Center resulted in confusion. Law enforcement, fire and rescue teams from the City and from neighboring departments worked together to respond to the emergency...

An Open Letter from a 9-1-1 Caller and Reply from a Dispatcher

Once Upon A Time in the 9-1-1 Center....... An imaginary correspondence that we wish could be conveyed from, and back to, our callers.

An Unprecedented Time For Violence

In a time of unprecedented violence against police, public safety telecommunicators remain as the guardians of the gate when it comes to maintaining first responder safety. That means paying close attention to all callers, listening for warning signs, maintaining radio discipline, and utilizing their resources to the fullest.

Analytics - Good Business For Public Safety

Voice and data analytics have been a positive influence in private business for years. This technology has proven to be a productive tool for improving customer service; recognizing trends improving products, productivity, customer needs and desires; and improving call handling by customer services representatives. Only recently has this technology been recognized as having potential in the Public Safety environment.

Anger Management in the PSAP

Anger affects our bodies, our minds and our behavior. In can be like a toxin that can either help us or hurt us. Think of it like chemotherapy. If you have something bad happening to you and you have to deal with it, sometimes you need a stronger does of "something" to fight it. In the case of anger, you are reacting to something that has gotten out of control, or your old methods of dealing are no longer working so anger came to the rescue...

Another Communications Failure Emphasizes the Criticality of FirstNet

The news in DC recently has been focused on an incident on a Metro train that left one person dead and several injured after riders were stuck in a tunnel on a train that filled with smoke... Most recently, reports surfaced about the failure of the fire department’s radios during incident response, particularly those in the metro tunnel where the train was stuck.

Another Fine Mess: Untangling the Web of PSAP Wiring

From our Nov/Dec 2008 issue: Anyone who says we're living in a wireless world has obviously never spent much time beneath the two by two carpet squares that hide what lies below. It is, after all, a scientific fact that if all the subterranean cabling were gathered from every dispatch center around the world and laid end to end, it would reach far past the edges of our solar system and into a distant galaxy.

Apr 19th & Sept 11th: What have we learned?

It has been ten years since the worst terrorist attack on the United States. It has been sixteen years since the worst Domestic Terrorist attack in Oklahoma City. These two incidents have taught us many lessons. The problem is we have a short memory and are already forgetting the lessons we learned on those days. It is your job, your responsibility to remember and god forbid if your jurisdiction is every attacked you will be ready to respond. Another key element to remember is these...

April Highlights 9-1-1 Education & Public Safety Telecommunictor Service

April has rolled around once again, and that's the time we all think about National Public Safety Telecommunicator's Week and 9-1-1 Education Month. If you haven't seen them, I'd like to show you some great links that can help you get the positive story about 9-1-1 out to the public.

April is National 9-1-1 Education Month

April is National 9-1-1 Education Month. Public Safety communication centers across the country are working to educate the public about the 9-1-1 Emergency System to help residents and businesses in their jurisdiction with emergency preparedness. Please join Operation 10-8 all this month as we support dispatchers everywhere with our own 9-1-1 Educational Campaign to assist with emergency preparedness and eliminating false calls.

Arcata Firefighters Keep Fast-Moving Vegetation Fire Confined

Arcata (Calif.) Fire District personnel responded to a report of a vegetation fire in the area of Foster Avenue at Dolly Varden Road in Arcata just after 5 p.m. on April 25, 2013. Firefighters arrived and found a large area of brush and debris burning near Foster Avenue. They began extinguishing the fire with a hoselay over the fence and into the pasture area. While firefighters were extinguishing the brush fire, a shed on a nearby property caught fire and threatened the adjacent house. Quick...

Archival Story: The Challenge of Fighting an Observatory Fire

Are 9-1-1 call-takers, dispatchers, and telecommunicators First Responders?

9-1-1 personnel are the FIRST first responder, the take reports of emergencies when they are at their freshest, when the least amount of information is known, and then work hard to turn this into an incident that responders can go to and mitigate...

Are CAD Systems Becoming Too Complicated?

From our March 2005 issue: For some, Computer-Aided Dispatch systems are the do-all, end-all of a communication center's technology. Yet many dispatch managers wonder whether today's CAD systems are becoming too complicated, and are including many features which are irrelevant and unimportant...

As Compared to What? How Compensation Studies Short-Change 9-1-1

For the more than 40 years that I've been in this business, many municipalities have used the same approach in attempting to answer personnel issues by "seeing what the neighbors are doing." Comparing ECCs of varying sizes is not always looking at apples to apples, and can produce some pretty inaccurate findings. If you are the largest facility in the region, you'll further suffer as a result of this process if your neighbors erroneously use you as a benchmark.

Attack on the Pentagon: The PSAP Response

As the scenario unfolded in Lower Manhattan and the second plane found its mark, their thoughts turned to the possibility that the Washington, DC suburb could be a target. Located immediately across the Potomac from our nation's capital, almost one fifth of Arlington consists of Federal property. Unfortunately, a few minutes later, their worst fears came true.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch Delivers Remarks at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund 27th Annual Candlelight Vigil

The names of 273 U.S. law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty have been added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial. These names were engraved and formally dedicated at the 27th annual Candlelight Vigil held at the Memorial on Wednesday, May 13th. Following are the remarks delivered by US Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch at the memorial ceremony.

Baker County Oregon Incident Dispatcher Team Assists With Arrest of Homicide Suspect

Early on in the investigation and search for the suspect the Baker County Undersheriff requested the response of the new Baker County 9-1-1 Dispatch Type II Mobile Communications Unit. It was enroute within four minutes of the request and was staffed by Chris Galiszewski our Communications Technician and Senior Incident Dispatcher Margaret Sackos.

Batman Pulled Over by Police in Maryland

Batman was stopped by Montgomery County (MD) officers on Wednesday, March 21, on southbound Route 29 at Prelude Drive in Silver Spring, for having an improper license plate on the Batmobile...

Battery Charging without Wires: What Price Convenience?

Wireless charging may one day replace plugs and wires similar to how Wi-Fi and Bluetooth have modernized personal and public safety communication. Wireless charging with inductive coupling uses an electromagnetic field that transfers energy from the transmitter to the receiver. But there are drawbacks...

Battery Fuel Gauge: Factual or Fallacy?

People may imagine the battery as being an energy storage device that is similar to a fuel tank dispensing liquid fuel. For simplicity reasons, a battery can be seen as such; however, measuring stored energy from an electrochemical device is far more complex. The battery fuel gauge is generally poorly understood in the medical field and this article describes the challenges of measuring energy in a battery.

BatteryJack offers Midland 81-B02 replacement battery

BatteryJack has manufactured a replacement battery for the Midland SP-400 series and ALAN radio lines. The battery is a direct replacement for any of the following Midland radios: SP-400, SP-410, SP-420, SP-430, SP-440, also the 70-440BP.

Behind IQResponse: A Q&A with Tiburon

At last week's National APCO Conference in Philadelphia, Tiburon introduced their new product, IQ Response, a next-generation product suite that integrates CAD, mobile data, fire and law records and jail management systems into a single interoperable software package. 9-1-1 Magazine spoke to Tiburon's Chief Marketing Officer, Ian Archbell, about the significance of the company's new offering.

Behind the Scenes of DISPATCH: A Short Film

DISPATCH is a short film that was made to bring awareness and honor to all emergency dispatchers and what they do for our communities. 9-1-1 Magazine spoke with writer-director Caleb Hermann about his objectives in making the film, what it took from pre-production through shooting and post-production to get it done - and what it means to the 9-1-1 profession.

Behind the Scenes with #IAM911 - The 9-1-1 Telecommunicators' Movement that's Gone In Service In A Big Way

9-1-1 Magazine interviewed Ricardo Martinez II last weekend to take a look behind the scenes on the objectives of #IAM911, where it's gone so far, and where it may go in the future to assist in the reclassification of public safety telecommunicators from "clerical" to "protective"

Belmont (MA) PD Utilize Notification Technology to Locate Missing Persons

Every day, law enforcement officials across the nation work to locate missing persons, and the more resources available, the better. Police departments, local government and schools across the nation have adopted mass notification technology, helping them to enlist the eyes and ears of an entire community. By sending an alert, by phone call, text, email, social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter, and TTY/TDD devices for people who are hearing impaired, officials can instantly expand...

Benefits of Integrating CAD and RMS

A clear sign showing how dispatchers can support law enforcement more directly than before, and even help influence a safe outcome for police incidents, is the move to integrate CAD and RMS systems. Fueling this integration trend is a wide range of software offerings that simplify data entry, retrieval and storage between dispatchers and law enforcement officers.

Body Cams Spur Data Storage Emergency For Law Enforcement

There are innumerable arguments these days over the move toward body cameras for law enforcement officers... Such rapid growth raises another question that needs immediate attention: are law enforcement agencies prepared to store all that data? The answer, unfortunately, seems to be "no."

Book: The History of Public Safety Dispatching in America - an Exclusive Interview with Author Diana Sprain

The History of Public Safety Dispatching in America - This new book by Diana Sprain provides a comprehensive but informally written history of the public safety dispatching profession from the foundations of public safety response and the early days of radio communications in the 1920s to the modern, high-tech and certified profession it has become. 9-1-1 Magazine spoke to Diana about her book, its origins and objectives, and what she hopes readers will get out of it.

Boston MedFlight uses TomTom to cut total trip time by 30% or more

Boston MedFlight recently added navigation systems from TomTom Business Solutions to its fleet of ground critical care vehicles, reducing trip time by an average of 30 percent. TomTom's fleet management and navigation systems are fully integrated into Boston MedFlight's dispatch system, allowing drivers to simply accept the job and get turn-by-turn directions

Botnets are a Serious Threat to First Responders

The unfortunate reality for public safety organizations that house confidential and sensitive data, including the personal information of employees and citizens, is that there is no end to cybersecurity threats such as botnets, worms, and hacking.

Breaking Into Technology

University Medical Center Hospital of Southern Nevada (UMC)'s Public Safety is a diverse department with three divisions: Public Safety (security), Safety, and Patient Transportation. Public Safety and Transportation each have their own separate radio channels and dispatchers, located in different areas of the hospital. This article is about the Public Safety division.

Breaking the Law of Unintended Consequences may be high time that we in policing explore this theory with a view to enhancing our decision-making processes. Can we couple this law with our intelligence led strategies to discover if (and then how) the 75 year old theory of Theory of Unanticipated Consequences can be reconciled with Intelligence Led policing practices? In today's world of limited options and resources, we must wring out every ounce of prospective benefit from every choice we make. This might be just the right time...

Bringing 9-1-1 into the 21st Century: Tools, Technology, & Training

As the decision-makers in emergency communications experience the progress of technology on a personal level, we can expect to see the next generation of 9-1-1 adopt the best elements of consumer technology...

Brother Can You Spare A Dime?

Current trends and challenges in 9-1-1 Center funding

Building Your Comm Center: Part One: PSAP Design

Directors and operators of public safety answering points (PSAPs) have to manage budgets, personnel, politics, technology and most importantly, the public your agency serves. Have you been on sidelines watching your colleagues in neighboring counties make major renovations or build a new facility while you struggle with 20-year old equipment in a 20-year old space?

Business Process Optimization for Public Safety Answering Points

Historically, Public Safety Answering Points were equipped with communications recording systems for protection from liability due to legal evaluation of emergencies. This function was facilitated by time stamps, protection from tampering and assurance of fail-safe operation.

California Air National Guard Completes Life-saving Mission on Pacific Ocean

California Air National Guardsmen from the 129th Rescue Wing completed an overwater rescue mission on the Pacific Ocean, saving the life of a seriously ill 37-year-old crewman on board the HMCS Calgary, a Canadian naval frigate.

California-Based Mobile Command Vehicle Rally Giving Insight to Emergency & Disaster Management in Japan

The Northern California Mobile Command Center Rally is a showcase for mobile command and communications vehicles of all types throughout northern California. A growing connection between this event and developments in mobile communications vehicles in Japan have been undertaken with the support of Hitoshi Igarashi and MCC Rally staff members Chuck Berdan, Donald Stabler, and Randall D. Larson.

Call Recorders: Technology Tools For Emergency Management

This article will attempt to justify including call recorders fitted with QA and Analytics capabilities in EOCs as a viable technology tool for the preparing for and responding to local disasters, impending or actual. These capabilities can be used for quality assurance on Citizen Information Lines (CIL) for the training and re-training of call handlers and volunteers for both voice and data call handling. They can be used for call data analysis for events prior-to, during, and after for ESN...

Calltaker to Calltaker: Adapting in a Text-to-9-1-1 World

There is so much focus on the move to Next Generation 9-1-1, particularly the addition of text-to-9-1-1 to our public safety tool kit. Much of the attention is around the technology and how to fit this new communication medium into workflows. Of course, all that must take place before a single text-to-9-1-1 message is answered but we shouldnt lose sight of the work that follows - the daily challenges calltakers will face to adapt their honed skills to the text-to-9-1-1 world.

Campus Police - Public Safety in a Microcosm

Public Safety response and communications on campus has as many commonalities with municipal, county, or state public safety as it has differences. In many ways, a campus is a microcosm of a city or a county, with its own facilities, departments, and services, and the role and responsibility of public safety personnel is very similar to that of a municipal agency. At the same time, the campus environment has its own unique challenges that differentiate campus police, fire, and EMS personnel...

Campus Police Department Puts a Dent in Bike Thefts with Affordable GPS Tracker

Priced at just $199.99, the CatchAThiefGPS locator turned out to be the ideal solution for the NCSU Police Department, enabling the force to dramatically reduce bike thefts on campus - cutting the incidence of thefts by 33%. The Securus team worked with the department to identify the right device settings and establish safe zones and speeds so that an armed device would transmit its location to department personnel when moved from its location.

Campus Police: Keeping School Safety a Priority When Funds Are Limited

In creating and restructuring Independent School District Police Department, leaders of the district in conjunction with local patrons and agencies, should adopt a philosophy reflective of the idea that the police department will be a partner of the school district and the community it serves (community oriented policing). Community policing is a philosophy and an organizational strategy that promotes a partnership between people and their police...

Can I Borrow a Cup of 9-1-1? Why We, Like Rodney, Get No Respect

Do you want a full return on all of your investment for public safety services? Then train the people who make it work, your FIRST first responders. Give nothing less than full support to the people who are accountable for every life and parcel under your purvey, because thats who we are and that is what we do.

Case Study: Achieving an Interoperable Multi-Agency System for Mutual Aid Emergencies in Solano County

Interoperable systems by their nature aren't neat and tidy, and Solano County agencies all had individual systems operating on different frequencies with an array of equipment from multiple suppliers. The new system would have to support three frequency bands, provide uninterrupted coverage across wide areas, and establish a patching solution to link the various disparate radio systems

Case Study: Fire Power: Mobile Workstations Reduce Response Time In Rogers, Arkansas

The City of Rogers (AR) Fire Department installed Motorola MW810 Mobile Workstations in their fire trucks and other emergency response vehicles. The firefighters have come to trust them to change statuses, find routes and view incident data as it is collected at the 9-1-1 center. The always-on workstations require no boot-up time, are ergonomically designed, feature displays bright enough to be seen in bright sunlight and are built to withstand the harshest environments.

Case Study: How a Tennessee Community Enhanced its Public Safety Through Always-on Applications

In 2014 the Lebanon (TN) Police Department upgraded its outdated computing infrastructure to run all applications – including its emergency CAD, traffic reporting, police use of force, and document and record management systems – on virtualized industry-standard x86 servers in its on-site data center. They followed this up in 2015 by deploying a continuous availability solution to keep its critical applications up and running - all the time.

Case Study: How Armored Vehicles Prepared the San Juan Regional Response Team for an Officer-Involved Shootout

On Tuesday, July 22, 2014, a specialized law enforcement team in San Juan, Texas was sent out to serve a high-risk warrant to a capital murder suspect...quickly turned into an active shooter situation. More than 200 officers (including seven SWAT teams) responded, along with five different armored rescue vehicles, also known as armored personal carriers (APCs). The motivation in using the armored vehicles was to provide relief and to transport SWAT teams into the crisis site, where two...

Case Study: Mission Manager Leveraging the U.S. National Grid for Greater Good

Until a few years ago, the U.S. National Grid was not a key component in emergency management software... Mission Manager is now one of the first software apps to incorporate the U.S. National Grid into operations. Mission Manager is now fully integrated and a U.S. National Grid mainstay for leading emergency response professionals across the U.S.

Case Study: Mobile Communications Made the Difference in Union County, N.C.

THOR Shield is a rapidly deployed mobile 9-1-1 emergency communications solution that is relatively new to the marketplace. It includes a specialized mobile communications/command center vehicle and trained technical staff that are designed specifically to provide on-demand, scalable operational continuity and technical support whenever and wherever 9-1-1 communications are impacted.

Case Study: Upgrades in Allegheny County for Continued Uptime Performance

We subjected a number of suppliers and their products to exhaustive and thorough analyses, one of which was a 99.99% uptime requirement as a minimum standard for the total solution. The new industry-standard hardware and software products from the County's current vendors ultimately prevailed in the RFP process, with the added feature of virtualization. The Windows-based CAD system would run in virtual machines on fully redundant ftServer hardware from Stratus Technologies. The software...

Changing Technology: How the Evolving Communication Landscape is Improving Emergency Notifications

As technology continues to evolve, especially in the emergency communication industry, new technologies are replacing, or being integrated with, traditional communication and notification tools to enhance overall systems. Learning from real-life examples, including an emergency such as Hurricane Sandy and the major transformation of Hawaii's in-progress communication infrastructure project, emergency managers can continue to learn and better navigate through the evolving landscape.

Chicago PD: What Modern Law Enforcement Agencies Need to Know About Modern Public Safety Technology Innovations

Law enforcement and fire departments around the country are leveraging new technologies to better inform their personnel, increase situational awareness, respond to emergencies, and protect citizens. The Chicago Police Department (CPD), recognized nationally as a technology innovator, is one such example.

Choosing a Mobile Command Vehicle

Salt Lake City's public safety departments have been prominent in the media the last several years. From Elizabeth Smart to Lori Hacking, the city has had its share of challenging incidents. Fortunately for its citizens, the city's police and fire departments now have at their disposal a state-of-the-art Mobile Command Center. The city received delivery of the new vehicle from Emergency Management Equipment (EME) in the Spring of 2004.

City of Fort Worth Embraces Smarter Public Safety System, Evolves into a Social Business

The city of Fort Worth, Texas can now more quickly respond to calls for help and communicate instantaneously with more than 40 agencies and departments across Texas. Fort Worth's Office of Emergency Management is the agency responsible for operating the 100-seat Joint Emergency Operations Center (JEOC), which communicates regularly with city and county agencies; state agencies such as the Texas Department of Public Safety; several federal agencies...

Cloud-Based Services: It's All Silver Lining for Public Safety

Cloud-based services give public safety agencies fast, easy access to feature functionality on a flexible, scalable and secure infrastructure... By moving premises-based technology infrastructures to off-site, managed, cloud-based solutions, PSAPs can experience real benefits in terms of flexibility, scalability, and security.

Common Misconceptions about 9-1-1 Emergency Dispatchers

Society has fabricated dramatic misconceptions about the job of emergency dispatchers in an attempt to explain what it does not understand. These misconceptions range from comical to outrageously absurd... As a former 9-1-1 police communications operator, I remember answering calls and talking to people who wholeheartedly believed some of these misconceptions about the job I was doing to help them.

Common Threads - Quilts of Hope for 9-1-1 Centers

After twelve years as a 9-1-1 dispatcher in Arizona, Jean Kester retired, moved to Washington state, and eventually founded an organization called Layers of Hope - Quilting 911, a support organization for 9-1-1 agencies and their communities who have undergone disasters or stressful, traumatic incidents. "I got the idea in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit the gulf coast," Jean told 9-1-1 Magazine. "I wanted to go down and help but it just wasn't possible. My husband suggested I use my...

Communications & Coordination: What has public safety learned from the Oakland Hills Fire?

On Saturday, October 19, 1991, the Oakland (CA) Fire Department responded to a small wildland fire that had broken out in a box canyon near the eastern bore of the Caldecott Tunnel. Initially comprising about seven acres, firefighters gained control of the blaze and, leaving their hose lines in place, checked the area for hot spots throughout the evening and into the next day. Little could they have known at the time that this small fire would progress in the next 72 hours into a...

Communications Network Surge Management: Coping At The Local Level

By identifying the possible things that can create emergency situations to our voice, data, and video pathways we can attempt to find ways to plan for or respond to them... The 2004 hurricane season in Florida and more recently the February 2, 2007 tornado event in Lake County (Groundhog Day Tornadoes) plainly evidenced the need for comprehensive analysis of potential emergencies and how they can or might affect our communications pathways and how we can respond to them.

Communications Technology Key to Disaster Preparation

Recently, Motorola Solutions had an opportunity to speak with two of our customers who were on the front lines of very different natural disasters that grabbed headlines this year. We wanted to hear their stories first-hand to ensure that we are meeting the current demands of first responders throughout the country, as well as anticipating their needs in coming years.

Community Engagement Is The Key To Successful Emergency Notification Solutions

As we recognized the ten-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and its devastation of New Orleans this past August, it's an appropriate time to revisit emergency notification plans to ensure communities are prepared should a severe weather event occur. Communication and collaboration among public safety departments and emergency management officials are essential in developing an effective disaster response protocol. As we remember the major storms of the past few decades - and the names...

Community Policing In The Age Of Homeland Security

Having recently heard about an example of law enforcement bullying in one of our Airports, our Perspective columnist John C. Fine was prompted to share his concerns and cautions in his latest observation, in which the keepers of homeland security make us feel actually less secure.

Computer-Aided Dispatch: A New Era of Emergency Response for Pleasantview FPD

Pleasantview Fire Protection District (FPD), a department in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, has emerged as an example of progressive thinking with their adoption of a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system. Implementing technology such as this requires a forward-thinking attitude, abundant patience and a willingness to take necessary risks.

Concepts in Next-Generation PSAP Furniture

Although many dispatchers prefer working in dimly lit atmospheres, when it comes to the overall quality and features of their workstations, the future is exceedingly bright. New levels of solidity, flexibility, and user control are now being introduced by leading console furniture suppliers - all to the benefit of emergency communications professionals patrolling the stressful front lines of public interface.

Concerning CAD Systems

Many CAD systems today are quite expensive, particularly for the small to mid-range customer. It's not uncommon to find a single position costing as much as $50K/per seat. Complexity aside, what we've discovered customers really want is a relatively simple method to receive a call from a citizen, generate a call for service record, track service actions and unit status, and produce performance reports to help better manage the agency. Some of today's CAD systems require double-digit...

Connected Cops and the Networks That Empower Them

Around the world, public safety agencies have successfully deployed cutting-edge surveillance systems as a means to provide greater protection to local communities - from police body-cams to sophisticated networks of cameras on public streets and intersections. But more support is needed to make public safety surveillance networks actionable in real-time, rather than just creating records for events that have already passed.

Connected Tech is the New Engine for Public Safety Operations

One key to ensuring first responders stay connected to other responders, to their stations and to hospitals is the use of in-vehicle routers. A highly secure and compact device that connects those on the field to others, while keeping all information private.

Connected Threat Defense - A Partnership Line of Attack

As trends of globalization and the transformation of information and operational technologies continue to evolve, national security leaders have to meet new demands to keep the public safe. The rapid rate of change in today's global knowledge economy, which produces, distributes and uses large amounts of data for public and private operations, presents newfound challenges to the United States' ability to adapt and effectively respond to new dynamic threats.

Consoles, Seating & Ergonomics

Modern dispatch centers by necessity are full of electronic appliances, all of which have to be interconnected and available to the dispatcher. As the quantity of information systems increases, dispatch workstation space has shrunk in order to keep all of it within easy reach. It wasn't long ago that dispatch centers - and there are still some out there today - were designed in such a way that dispatchers faced ongoing repetitive motion injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome as they...

Consolidated Dispatch: Embraced or Feared?

Consolidated Dispatch Centers are not a new concept: some have operated successfully for more than 40 years. With this history of success, why does the idea of consolidation strike fear in the hearts of some police and fire chiefs but garner praise from others? This article focuses on misconceptions that create barriers to consolidating dispatch/communication center operations.

Coordinating Communications: The Value of Plain Speech and Universal Radio Equipment in Local Operations

NIMS requires the use of plain speech during multi-agency, multi-jurisdiction and multi-discipline events, such as major disasters and exercises. It does not require plain speech as common practice within day to day departmental operations. However, the importance of plain speech as a means of creating a universal radio language in the United States goes far beyond those kind of major, multi-agency disasters.

Countdown to 9-1-1's 50th

Get ready to celebrate! The 50th Anniversary of 9-1-1 will take place on February 16, 2018. On that date it will be "fifty years ago today" for America's three-digit national emergency number, as a certain song that recently celebrated its own 50th Anniversary, goes.

Creature Comforts: Modern Trends in 9-1-1 Center Design

The design and construction of a public safety communications center is a complex process that requires several years to complete. What are some of the actors to consider in designing or upgrading a modern 9-1-1 facility in order to provide a functional yet comfortable and healthy work environment for an PSAP's staff?

Crisis Collaboration: Beyond Radio

Say "interoperability" and most policymakers immediately think new Project 25 (P25) radio systems. True, your radios might be due for an upgrade. But public safety agencies can serve the public interest by educating policymakers that funding new radios alone will not satisfy other urgent interoperability requirements for effective crisis collaboration:

Crisis Text Line - A Service for People in Crisis that 9-1-1 Dispatchers Should Know About

Your Dispatch Center may receive a call from a service called "Crisis Text Line" (CTL) requesting assistance on a suicidal subject or other such crisis. They are a national crisis intervention service based in Manhattan, NY; they are legitimately trying to help those in need via text messages... I can see this service complementing 9-1-1 much like Suicide Prevention Hotlines have done for decades

Critical Incident Management: A New Era of Post-9/11 Dispatch Models

No longer are post 9/11 dispatch models able to support moderate or significant incidents separate and apart from the philosophy of critical incident management. Personnel at Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) serve integral roles. Command and control of an incident starts as soon as the primary unit has been dispatched to virtually any call for service...

Cruel, Cruel Summer - Where Do We Go After Dallas?

In the wake of the deadliest law enforcement encounter since 9/11, how will what happened in Dallas change how we do business in the 9-1-1 Communications Center?

Cultural Communications - Tribal Enforcement, DUI, & South Dakota's Initiatives To Save Lives on its Highways

After A Distinguished Career Top South Dakota Cop Reflects On The Most Important Issues Facing His State And Perhaps The Nation

Customizing a Keypad as an Alternative Dispatch Console Interface

We had concerns that this mouse-driven interface could pose a problem for our dispatchers who already suffer from a cluttered work space and were used to a keyboard-driven system for radio dispatch management. Using a modular keypad programmed to emulate the console functions, we developed an in-house solution that is working very well for our dispatchers.

Cyberattacks, 9-1-1 Bots, Corporate Partnership & More - Public Safety Predictions for 2017

2016 was an eventful year for public safety, with the rise in civil disobedience, increased targeting of and violence against police officers, and the changing face of the terrorist threat. On the technology front cyber security, drones, digital surveillance, and body cams took turns in the spotlight. So whats in store in 2017? Here are some predictions, some safe and others slightly riskier, for what well see next year.

Danger Ahead: The Public's Troubling Attitudes Toward Disaster Warnings & Preparedness

Though 2011 represented a record-breaking year with regard to the number of disasters, the American public remains largely unaware of both their local alerting processes and their community's emergency notification capabilities. Even more alarming, many citizens approach the subject of disaster warnings and personal emergency preparedness with attitudes that reflect unacceptable levels of complacency, indifference and, in far too many cases, what can only be described as outright apathy.

Data Analysis & Public Safety: How Predictive Policing Can Benefit 9-1-1 Personnel

Often, discussions about 9-1-1 technology are geared toward live computer aided dispatch screens, automated vehicle locator information and applications and communications systems between dispatch and officers in the field. While all critical to emergency services, there lies a growing interest in analytics as they relate to data that is gathered in computer aided dispatch and other systems. Whether analyzing response times on various call types or determining the optimal positioning of...

Data Forensics - Criminal Investigations Often Begin with the 9-1-1 Call for Help

The catalyst to a criminal case often begins with a call to 9-1-1. It's the first potential evidence investigators have to determine the initial facts of a case. If that call was placed via a mobile device, it often provides a gateway into more powerful data evidence. Today, mobile device evidence is the new "smoking gun" and is redefining criminal investigations.

Data Integration is a Necessary Building Block for Sound Analytical, Threat Assessment Capabilities

In the aftermath of 9/11, many law enforcement agencies sought to establish new data repositories to capture information, such as Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR, also known as Tips & Leads), Organized Crime Intelligence, Counter-terrorism Intelligence, and even Web-based and electronic document open-source data. Quite a few agencies, perhaps a result of the growth of Fusion Centers, are now interested in setting up information management systems that can mine existing data repositories...

Day Of Infamy: FDNY In The Bravest Tradition

After the initial plane struck the first tower, a third alarm was transmitted. When the second plane struck the other tower, two 5th alarm assignments, one for each building, were transmitted, plus an additional 2nd Alarm assignment for Brooklyn companies to respond into Manhattan. FDNY companies from all five boroughs were responding. Urgent requests for additional help were radioed to Manhattan fire alarm dispatchers, just as numerous reports of trapped civilians and were flooding the...

Deja Vu All Over Again: Public Safety & Civil Disobedience 2011 Style

Are we headed for a repeat of the tumultuous sixties? I'm not sure, but certainly some of the divining signs are there. And if that is the case we are going to need to resharpen our skills in handling the types of events that are associated with societal change.

Delanco, NJ: 11-Alarm Warehouse Fire

On Sunday September 1, 2013 a building fire was reported in Delanco, Burlington County at 1000 Coopertown Rd, at the Dietz & Watson warehouse. First arriving units reported heavy smoke coming from the roof area of the building. Crews secured the limited water supplies and set up for defensive operations. Multiple Ladder Pipes were set up to surround the building. Roof operations were off limits due to the entire roof being covered with solar panels.

Developing a Mobile Command Center Rally: Lessons from Fairfax County

Digital Trunked System Knocks Down Largest Fire in a Decade

November 7, 2008 marked the largest fire in a decade in Champaign, Illinois, and the first major test of our countywide 800 MHz digital trunked system. Not only did everything work well, everyone was interoperable - fire, EMS and police - during an incident that required a lot of communication and coordination

Disaster Management: Controlling Rumors On Social Media Is Crucial During A Disaster Or Terrorist Attack

A study on the use of social media in three major incidents revealed that Twitter is emerging as the dominant social reporting tool to report eye-witness accounts and share information on disasters... But when it is the online community who are creating and exchanging the news rather than official news channels, this can not only exaggerate the unfolding situation, but also unintentionally turn it into misinformation, diverting attention from the real problems.

Disaster Preparedness: Study Adapts To New Coastal Flooding Reality

Coastal storms like Hurricane Sandy aren't new, but what is new are the stakes. Today we have more development and people living on our coast. We also now face an unpredictable climate change and sea level rise which could further compound coastal flooding. One of the largest U.S. Army Corps of Engineers studies ever undertaken will now look at ways to safeguard communities in the New York and New Jersey Metropolitan region from future hurricanes. A multi-agency team will work with...

Disaster Training: A Volunteer's Viewpoint of Austin Urban Shield

According to Alameda County, California, Urban Shield is "a national model, full-scale exercise, designed to assess and validate the speed, effectiveness and efficiency of capabilities, as well as test the adequacy of regional policies, plans, procedures and protocols" (Urban Shield, 2013). Urban Shield events require hundreds of volunteers, to portray victims in a variety of disaster scenarios. When possible local residents are used and that is how I got involved with the Austin, Texas...

Dispatch ICS

When an extraordinary incident hits a community, the dispatch center is thrown into an exceptionally busy period of critical, peak activity. There is the potential for chaos to reign, or for conflicting orders from multiple supervisors to throw dispatch operations into disarray. Having a standardized method of managing extraordinary incidents in the dispatch center will maintain a smooth operation and maximize support to the field responders. A manner of incident command, modeled after the...

Dispatcher Awards and Rewards Explored

It’s been over a year since I posted the poem The Pachyderm in the PSAP which lamented the state of telecommunications. I’m sad to say that 2014 did not bring us significant progress on these lingering issues. In fact, things may have gotten worse....

Dispatcher Lost in WTC Collapse

Line of Duty Death of Jersey City Fire Dispatcher, Joseph Lovero, at the World Trade Center

Dispatchers and Children Honored as 9-1-1 Heroes at Celebrity Golf Tournament

Actors and professional athletes gathered together on Monday, May 20th at the St. Regis Golf Resort for a celebrity golf tournament as a fundraiser for the 9-1-1 For Kids organization. The organization publicly recognized two local dispatchers and children as 9-1-1 Heroes to kick-off the tournament. A dispatcher from the Anaheim Police Department (CA) and one from the California Highway Patrol were honored, along with two children they each received a 9-1-1 call to report an emergency.

Dispatchers Don’t Need Stress Training - Right?

An emergency dispatcher’s environment is unique as very few jobs require such attention to detail and task accuracy performed in an expedited manner... Add this level of expected perfection in performance to the level of stress associated with a screaming caller, shots fired, or a mass casualty situation and the potential for human error increases drastically due, in part, to what is commonly referred to as the "fight or flight" response.

Dispatchers In The Clouds: Cloud Computing and the Modern PSAP

The future model of law enforcement communications centers is on the verge of a paradigm shift, one which will vastly change the way dispatching services are provided. In the near future, your communications center will likely integrate cloud-based technology. To take advantage of the cloud for emergency communications, though, we must first understand the long-term benefits of cloud-based communications centers, have clarity regarding options for deployment, and work to obtain the tools...

Dispatching During Dissension: How Community Relations Impact the PSAP

When sensitive incidents occur in one jurisdiction, that citizen reaction knows no bounds, triggering a rash of belligerent callers and unfounded complaints at other 9-1-1 centers. The same can be said of our law enforcement users. The "Hands Up - Don’t Shoot" rallies extended nationwide as a public display of protest. What was not so public was the impact placed upon PSAPs in having to deal with these events and associated traffic.

Dispatching in Slippers: The Future of Public Safety Communication Centers?

The "Anytown" Police Department took a page from the private sector and had taken advantage of having employees working from home. They realized that the role of the Public Safety Dispatcher has evolved from being just a job for a clerk to answer the phone and radio. Their roles are now that of highly skilled professionals who fill a unique niche that few can replace... But Pat and his fellow Anytown dispatchers had phones routed to their homes, along with all of the computer equipment...

Does Your 9-1-1 Center Flooring Comply with Grounding Standards?

The job of 9-1-1 dispatchers is to respond to calls from people who may be in danger. But what happens when electrostatic discharges (ESD) interfere with communications equipment and the call is lost? Static-control flooring, particularly carpet tile, helps prevent ESD events from harming equipment in 9-1-1 dispatch centers and equipment rooms. Simply put, if this flooring doesn't meet international industry standards - as well as the standard of care established by the American...

Drones Fly to the Rescue

Many technological breakthroughs in recent years have emerged in places areas where it was least expected. Unmanned aerial systems, for example, have transitioned from highly defense-focused applications to a multitude of commercial use cases that transcend industries. But what makes UAS, more commonly referred to as drones, fit for emergency response?

During Budget Cuts How Technology Can Save Lives with Less Money

Today, state and local governments must provide citizen services with tighter budget constraints than ever before. These challenges force governments to pick and choose between programs and services often putting citizens and government employees in jeopardy. Innovative, collaborative, virtualization technology is a key solution to address this ever-growing problem.

Duty Positive: Is Optimism Possible in the Public Safety Professions?

Negative events can significantly impact the mind, body, and soul of the ones whose responsibility it is to provided service and security in times of crisis. Negative coping mechanisms include denial, projection, cynicism, stoicism, and escape. Consequently, one might ask: Is Optimism Possible in the Public Safety Professions?

E911: Raising Awareness for a Critical Component of Emergency Communications

Over the years, I've met with many safety officers and other managers who think a lot about emergency preparedness at our schools, corporations and government institutions. ... most of these organizations are not using all the tools available to provide the highest level of safety in the event of an emergency. While their intent is right, many safety officers are simply not aware of technology solutions that exist today for multi-line telephone systems that can ensure the right help gets to...

Editor's Desk: Operational Interoperability

This article was written in the far younger age of 2006 and published in our April issue of that year, as we approached the fifth anniversary of public safety's darkest day. The term "operational interoperability" is one I have favored for many years, as it evokes more than just technological innovation, as I explain below. Another ten-and-a-half years have passed, and we're still struggling with technological and operational concerns when it comes to different entities being able to...

Editor's Desk: Primum non Nocere? "3rd Overdose = No Response" Policy Under Consideration by Ohio City

"If the dispatcher determines that the person who's overdosed is someone who's been part of the program for two previous overdoses and has not completed the community service and has not cooperated in the program, then we wouldn't dispatch," proposed Dan Picard, Middletown city council member.

Editor's Desk: Resolution

There's another meaning for the word "resolution," and that is "image resolution," a measurement of photographic clarity, which describes the detail an image holds... This kind of resolution - clarity - can be valuable in the workplace (especially in public safety, where lives depend on the keenness of our perspective)...

Editor's Desk: The Rush to Judgment

We're hearing a lot in the media these days about police brutality, about the militarization of police, about racism and all of the ugly accusations that confront law enforcement, particularly in the wake of events on Ferguson, Missouri, which is experiencing a second week of rioting and violence against police in the wake of a shooting of a young, unarmed black man by a white police officer...

EENA: #NiceAttack: Enough is enough! - We Need an Efficient Public Warning System

Lessons to learn for all public safety, from the European Emergency Number Association (EENA): Today, in the aftermath of the tragic attack in Nice, many articles mention the failures of the emergency alert system in France... For too many years, EENA has been calling on relevant authorities to mandate an efficient public warning system...

Eleven Years After, the Bell Still Tolls

For those of us in the 9-1-1 business, professionals in the realm of public safety communications, September 11th has a very unique ring. It tolls with the low, baritone gong of the funeral procession, since so many of our brothers and sisters in the first responder community perished as a result of those heinous acts of warfare against our country and our way of life. We, who have dedicated ourselves or at least entered into a profession whereby our mission is to help people during...

Embracing Call Assessment as a PSAP Management Tool

9-1-1 call assessment should measure an agency against its own self-identified standard of care to reveal their overall call-handling consistency, adherence to identified objectives and employee performance levels. Careful analysis of these measurements reveals powerful data that can be used to strengthen ongoing operations, lower employee burn out and energize continuing education and training programs.

Emergency Communications V2.0 - The Next Generation And Beyond

Smartphones now offer more advanced computing ability and connectivity. NG 9-1-1 will ultimately have the capacity to support these devices and the advanced technologies they possess. This includes pinpointing callers based on geographic coordinates, sending and receiving text and instant messages, and sharing high-resolution photographs or video images. All of this are current capabilities of the contemporary Smartphone, which is rapidly becoming the preferred means of communication for...

Emergency Communicators: Stay One Step Ahead in Preparedness

One of the most important things for emergency telecommunicators to do is to truly understand their jurisdiction and what critical infrastructure, symbolic targets, and other unique features exist and how the loss or disruption of those facilities or events will impact emergency responders and the community. Understanding community threats prior to an emergency is critical to not just the success of the response, but also the life safety of the occupants and emergency responders.

Emergency Medical Services, Collaboration, and the New Healthcare Equation

The lines between healthcare and the public sector continue to blur within the United States. As the provisions of the Affordable Care Act become a reality, the adaptation of new technologies for Emergency Medical Service (EMS) organizations will begin to play a larger role in bending the healthcare cost curve. The changing part that paramedics and emergency medical technicians (EMT) play in the health of our communities is now ever more critical than in years past.

Emergency response? There’s an app for that…

Today’s new recruits most likely grew up with touchscreen technology, swiping and tapping between apps on smart phones and tablets like a jazz pianist taking a solo. There are scores of apps designed to streamline decision making for emergency personnel...

Emergency Technologies Deploys Multi-Department Fire Records System in San Antonio, Bexar County, and Schertz Fire Departments

Emergency Technologies, Inc. (ETI) proudly reports that that the Visual Fire system is live and operational within the city of San Antonio Fire Department, the city of Schertz Fire-Rescue, and throughout all of the Bexar County Fire Departments. ETI's Visual Fire solution allows these city and county fire departments to have an integrated public safety information system to help streamline information sharing between city and county agencies.

Emerson Network Power Announces a New Data Center Solution to Deliver Secure and Remote Virtual Infrastructure Management

Emerson Network Power, a business of Emerson and the global leader in enabling Business-Critical Continuity, has introduced the Avocent Virtual Advanced Console Server 6000 (ACS v6000), a new tool for secure, remote data center and out-of-band management of virtual assets.

Empowering First Responders with Real-Time, Life Saving Information

In emergencies, time is critical. Ineffective or limited communication of information to first responders can be the difference between safety and disaster, life or death. To ensure a quick and safe response, responders need more visibility in to what is happening at the scene, prior to arrival.

EMS Helicopters: Dispatchers Facing the Challenge

I once had a boss that strongly urged me not to "spend a lot of time and energy on trying to figure out this helicopter mess. We all know helicopter transportation is just a fad and will soon be forgotten." He was so wrong.

EMS Operations: Create Fast, Detailed Patient Care Reports with Voice Technology

Digital dictation and transcription are some of the most rapidly adopted technologies by emergency medical service (EMS) professionals, and for good reason. Voice technology allows emergency workers to capture crucial patient care details faster and more efficiently than typing, and it helps EMS companies submit cleaner, more accurate claims and bills. The results are safer handoffs at the hospital, higher quality patient care and faster reimbursement.

EMS Response to the WTC Disaster

All the agencies involved in the September 11th incident faced their own sets of challenges when they responded. It was more like operating in a war zone than in a civil disaster. One of the most daunting tasks was to bring out the wounded while the attack continued to unfold.

EMS Systems: Have It My Way

Recently, I had the opportunity to assist an international security company with the task of developing an EMS system in Central America. While this company had experience in law enforcement deployment, they had not yet put together an EMS system so they sought advice from others to help design one for a location where EMS was virtually non-existent (with the exception of limited providers for private payers).

Enhanced MDC-1200 Controller

Midian Electronics has added enhancements to its PC based CAD-500 MDC-1200 controller. In addition to decoding and displaying ANI (Automatic Number Identification) and Emergency ANI in Motorola's MDC-1200 it will decode status messages from field units.

Enough is Enough: How Non-emergency Calls Have Compromised Our Emergency Number

If you cruise around the web, you'll see plenty of stories about how most calls to 9-1-1 arent truly emergencies. For those of us involved in the day-to-day provision of law enforcement, fire, and medical services, this trip wasnt really necessary. We already knew that a good portion of the events delivered to us dont require a lights and siren response. Some are handled through routine assignment, and others can be managed online or over the phone.

Evaluating Emergency Calls: Tools for Dispatcher Effectiveness

Public safety communications centers that record calls for compliance shouldn't overlook the usefulness of those recordings in evaluating dispatcher performance. That's a lesson learned from the call center industry, where recording and evaluation is widespread.

Every Second Counts: Voice Recognition Technology for Law Enforcement Practices

Modern policing, like many other industries, requires a significant amount of administrative work and assistance... One technology that is growing in popularity in mainstream culture is voice recognition. Often, the technology is utilized through the use of consumer products, like phones and tablets. However, it is quickly becoming a widespread solution across multiple industries, including law enforcement, in which it is utilized to aid in officers’ reporting and report-filing processes.

Exodus to New Jersey: Triage and Treatment on the New Jersey Shore

In the Borough of Highlands, a close-knit clamming town with a harbor on Sandy Hook Bay, Lieutenant Edward Chambers was watching the horror unfold on a television set in headquarters. As media coverage brought terror into homes and offices throughout the world, Highlands Police received a phone call from the SeaStreak Ferry as it traversed the harbor between New York and New Jersey. The SeaStreak official informed the police that they were carrying nearly 400 injured people from Manhattan.

Expanding Your Console Space with Flat Displays

Communication centers that are standardized on or migrating to computer-aided dispatch (CAD) and records management systems for emergency services are becoming more familiar with Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) flat panel technology as a preferred monitor platform. Beyond the "cool" factor of these slim displays there are many functional and ergonomic benefits associated with LCD panels in the construction of user consoles and furniture that justify the expense of this monitor technology.

Extending The Reach Of Warnings & Notifications Via A "Layered" Approach To Crisis Communications

The popularity of SMS, social media and other internet messaging mediums have substantially expanded opportunities to manage emergency events. This is evident in the rapid development of interoperable, network-based, multi-device communications systems... Though new technologies and messaging formats broaden the overall reach of crisis communications in both natural and man-made disasters, they also present inherent challenges...

Fake News and 9-1-1: Getting Our Story Straight

My point here is far from the political battlefield that spawned the term. The fake news I want to discuss happens when the media, intentionally or unintentionally, distorts or misrepresents something that weve done.

Fake News Redux: The Hype and Hyperbole of Disaster Coverage

In my more than 20 years of writing for 9-1-1 Magazine, I have never had occasion to address the same topic in consecutive months until today. However, the recent plague of natural disasters has given me reason to produce an immediate follow up to my last column. Coverage of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, as well as the earthquake in Mexico City has served as the catalyst for me to revisit how the media handles - and sometimes mishandles - reports about our industry.

FDNY Communications: One Year Later

As we approach the first anniversary of the day that forever changed our lives, the FDNY still is in a world of hurt. Well documented are the experiences of the firefighters and chiefs on duty that day. Not so well documented is what has happened to us inside the communications office, and inside our minds.

Feeling Insecure? Protecting the PSAP in the 21st Century

As our need for intelligent and interconnected customer premise equipment increases, so does our exposure to viruses, Trojans, malware, spyware, adware, ransomware, and denial of service attacks. Internally, you can reduce the danger though frequent password changes, firewalls, anti-virus programs, and limiting access to who can load software of any kind to your machines... But past that point, it's mostly out of our hands...

FEMA US&R Task Force Deployment 9/11:Lessons Learned

26 of the 28 Urban Search and Rescue (US&R) Task Force teams that are members of FEMA's National Urban Search & Rescue Response System served in New York City and Arlington, Virginia, during the first month following the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, helping with search and rescue operations and to recover the remains of some of the thousands who died. Perhaps because the events of 9-11 have represented the greatest challenge to date for the FEMA US&R Task Force teams,...

FF/PM Artist Finds Paintings as a Way to Combat PTSD

When these statistics started coming in for PTSD and how many firefighters, paramedics and law enforcement officers are affected by that, even to the point of committing suicide, I thought about how I could express some of the stressful things that I see through my artwork. I recognized some of the signs of PTSD in myself, and I've found it useful for me to process what I’ve seen by recreating the calls through artwork.

Fire On The Lot! Behind the Scenes at the 2008 Universal Studios Fire

It was a stunning scene, set against the familiar backdrop of the Hollywood Hills overlooking the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles. A massive black cloud of smoke pillared above a burgeoning firestorm on the Universal Studios backlot. In the pre-dawn light, it looked like the kind of mesmerizing, dramatic special effects that the studio is famous for. Only this was no movie...

Firefighters Travel to Long Island for Hurricane Sandy Relief Project

Photo Story: Between December 14 and 17, Canadian photographer Mitchell Brown joined 19 firefighters from Tennessee, North Carolina, Ohio, New York and Maryland to lend a hand in Breezy Point, New York, helping rebuild homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

First Responder Radios Are Evolving With The Times

Emerging radio technology is more capable, more flexible, and tougher than legacy solutions. The next generation of radios, although similar in many ways to existing equipment, introduces a number of innovations that make them uniquely well-suited to the changing needs of first responders.

First Responders don't have to change providers just because their state opts-in to FirstNet

Don Brittingham, Vice President, Verizon Enterprise Solutions - Public Safety, explains why opting-in doesn't necessarily have an immediate (or even potential long term) impact on first responders. FirstNet does not require public safety agencies to use the FirstNet solution, even if their state opts-in.

Five Areas Certain to Shape Law Enforcement in 2013

As a new year approaches, law enforcement officials across the nation are undoubtedly aware of many of the trends affecting their work. Here is a look at five issues certain to shape law enforcement in 2013:

Five Factors To Consider When Developing Enclosure Solutions For Mobile Applications

Protecting vital electronic equipment in a static - or immobile - environment is a challenge, but set that equipment in motion and the degree of difficulty rises exponentially. Enclosure solutions for mobile applications like those described require some special layout and design considerations not necessary with stationary operations.

Five Principles for Successful 9-1-1 Consolidations

Many American communities are facing unprecedented revenue losses and bleak economic futures. Communities across the country are searching for ways to save money while preserving and protecting services critical to the community - particularly the services provided by first responders. In the public safety arena, one option that is frequently discussed is the consolidation of 9-1-1 services. For the past 40 years, the consolidation of public safety 9-1-1 dispatching centers has been an...

Flanders, NJ: Motor Vehicle Accident & Extrication

Firefighters from Flanders Fire Company #1 and Rescue Squad Monday night extricated the driver of a small sports car that ran under a guard rail on Route 206 near the south entrance to Overlook (Oakwood) Apartments. Firefighters used saws, hand tools and hydraulic rescue tools to cut the guard rail...

Flexibility Key to Dispatcher Health

Attention, Dispatchers: Your first emergency is in your chair! Long periods of sitting can take years off your life, but a few easy stretches can add them right back

Flight For Life Colorado: A Pioneer of Saving Lives in the Sky

For 2015's annual National Aviation Day, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Kathleen Mayer, program director for the very first civilian air medical program in the U.S. - Flight For Life Colorado. Kathleen's career started as a flight nurse for Flight For Life in 1983, and although she has seen many changes in aviation and the air medical industry over the years, her commitment to saving lives is as strong as ever.

For Those Who Wear the Headset: The Thin Gold Line

Dispatchers and communication operators at public-safety agencies (police/fire/EMS) across the world are often forgotten because the public eye rarely focuses on the unsung heroes who wear the headset. But today, the Thin Gold Line shines ever so bright and we see the brave men and women who help us when we call in our darkest hours… the men and women who work as emergency dispatchers.

Four Days at Ground Zero: Volunteering at the WTC

Kevin and I had met years ago as volunteers with Mother Teresa's Missionaries of Charity. He's a crew-cut police sergeant from Malden. I'm a retired special agent from the Drug Enforcement Administration. The Amtrak conductor, overhearing our conversation about volunteering in the search and rescue at the scene of the World Trade Center disaster, told us that he was proud of us.

Francisco Partners Completes Acquisition Of EF Johnson Technologies, Inc

EF Johnson Technologies, Inc. has announced that FP-EF Holding Company, Inc., an affiliate of Francisco Partners, a global technology-focused private equity fund, has completed its acquisition of EF Johnson Technologies, Inc. Under the terms of the merger agreement approved by stockholders, FP-EF Holding Company has acquired all of the outstanding shares of EF Johnson Technologies, based on a price of $1.50 per share in cash.

From 9/11 to 9-1-1: What the Death of Bin Laden Means to Us

Late on the evening of Sunday, May 1, President Barack Obama announced to the world that Osama Bin Laden was dead; ending a decade long search for what many believed to be the poster child for terrorism... So now that the dust from the chopper blades has cleared the compound, and we have a clear view, just what does all of this mean to public safety? Unfortunately, a clear view doesn't mean a clear answer.

From a Text Message to a Life Saved

Think you're good at giving good driving directions, specifying street names, lane ends, and landmarks like the mountains east and west of the your community? The same ease probably wouldn't apply in places around Saskatoon, Canada... Just ask Ron Boechler, the police chief for Corman Park, a Rural Municipality (RM) located around Saskatoon. He'd have been lost without the guidance of MD Ambulance Dispatcher Kim Wruck. Without their teamwork, a young woman would not likely have survived the...

From Festivals to Football, Pre-Planning Assembly Events is Critical

Large assembly events like Burning Man and Lollopalooza are a soft target for incidents triggered by accident or on purpose. These events need to be incident preplanned so first responders can react with knowledge, saving lives and property...

From Out of the Blue: A 9-1-1 Call from Flight 93

A cellular 9-1-1 emergency call was received at the dispatch center from a passenger on an airline. The Westmoreland dispatcher detected an immediate urgency in the caller's voice. The caller indicated that the plane was being hijacked and was calling 9-1-1 for help.

From the Archive: Bringing Home America's Astronauts: The Shuttle Columbia Incident - Search & Recovery in Texas

In honor of the 10th Anniversary of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, we present this article which covered the Search & Rescue operations to recover the remains of the Shuttle and its crew in Texas. During the Feb 1, 2003 incident, FEMA deployed three Incident Support Teams and six Human Remains Recovery Canine Teams from its US&R system in order to successfully recover the astronauts' remains from a debris path spread across Texas and into Louisiana. This mission was accomplished...

From the Archives - Raging Waters: Advances in Swiftwater and Flood Rescue

... It was only when swiftwater rescue instructors and rescuers refined and clarified the term to include flood rescue operations that the concept began to take its proper place in the technical rescue line-up. Floods are potential disasters. Floods can kill people. Floods can involve fast moving water and you need to be able to rescue people from it...

From the Archives: Antarctica Fire: Public Safety Under Down Under

McMurdo Station is Antarctica's largest community. It is a complex logistics staging facility for scientific research teams stationed in Antarctica. The community contains more than 100 structures including a harbor, an outlying airport with landing strips on sea ice and shelf ice, and a helicopter pad. Providing public safety for this remote facility is a full time paid fire department - and four 9-1-1 dispatchers.

From the Archives: BAYWATCH: The Real L.A. County Lifeguards

They may be buff. They may even be bronzed and beautiful. But the Hollywood "Baywatch" stereotype ends when television sets are turned off and the authentic Los Angeles County Lifeguards spring into action.

From the Archives: Handing a Line-Of-Duty Death - Dispatch To Eternity

July 1, 1993: A brief radio encounter - tragic events that unfolded in a matter of minutes - changed the lives of two individuals forever, leaving one dead and the other with haunting memories, and leaving many more with unanswered questions due to.

From the Archives: Handling a Line Of Duty Death - A Double Tragedy in Oakland, 1999

On Sunday, January 10th, 1999, tragedy struck the city of Oakland, California (population almost 400,000 and located across the Bay from San Francisco) when it lost two of its best emergency workers in one day... Dispatchers who handled the incidents both affirmed that there is nothing a dispatcher can do to prepare for the emotional impact of losing a field unit. The pattern I've observed from these experiences appears to be common to these types of critical incidents. These incidents...

From the Archives: Maze Meltdown: The Story of a Unique Fire

At 3:45 AM on April 29, 2007, a gasoline tanker caught fire inside the MacArthur Maze - an interchange of three major San Francisco Bay Area freeways with daily traffic of 230,000 vehicles. The intensity of the fire, and the difficulty accessing it through the maze of freeway ramps, melted the supporting guiders leading to a collapse of the interchange. Here's how Oakland area fire departments handled the incident.

From the Archives: McMurdo Station, Antarctica: The Ultimate Dispatch Challenge

The challenge of a lifetime! Dispatching from McMurdo Fire Station, 35 miles from the foot of Mt. Erebus, an active volcano that rises 12,400 feet above sea level. Smoke and steam are seen spewing from its cone on a daily basis. The fire station is located on Hut Point Peninsula on Ross Island. This assignment is for the strong willed, adventure-minded dispatcher, because you are not on a 100-degree tropical island, you are at the bottom of the earth in Antarctica.... This year, four of...

From the Archives: Mobile Command Posts - Acquisition - Configuration - Options

Major public safety emergencies depend on effective management and communications. Mobile command posts provide a base of operations and an enclosed area free of distractions for incident management decisions. When combined with a communications module or separate communications van, an incident is able to maintain its own field communications, freeing the Comm Center to handle day-to-day activities while on-scene personnel manage incident-generated communications.

From the Archives: Police Response to Suicide

Laws are certainly useful in dealing with Mental Health Commitments - but they don't adequately deal with the issue of officer safety, which is paramount when dealing with potentially dangerous situations. This is where training comes in. Training is essential in dealing with suicidal or mentally impaired individuals; this includes basic police academy training as well as continued training throughout an officer's career.

From the Archives: Safety & Security at Skywalker Ranch

Darth Vader, Indiana Jones, Lando Calrissian, Yoda, they all stopped off here. This is the way-station between imagination and illusion, the all-important planning terminal where fanciful creations of the mind are mapped out and prepared for manufacture, and where the makings of movie magic are prepared for life through the science of technology, and where they will stop again to have their finishing touches applied on the way from Silicon Valley to silver screen.

From the Archives: School Violence - Concerns for First Responders

From July/August 1999 issue: School violence has moved out of its usual urban setting and into the headlines of an increasing number of "safe," small-town communities. From Alaska to Arkansas, children have been killing and injuring other children with alarming frequency. Altercations that at one time might have involved fistfights, knives, or an occasional handgun, can now involve sophisticated semi-automatic weapons, with hundreds of rounds of ammunition that can fell scores of victim in...

From the Archives: Shoot-Out In North Hollywood: Command And Communications

February 28, 1997, was a day of mayhem and miracles in North Hollywood. A pair of gunmen, clad in ski masks and full body armor, swaggered into the Bank of America shortly after it opened for business, spray-painted the lobby with bullets from AK-47 and M-16 assault rifles, and launched what was to become one of the most prolonged and shocking gun battles in the history of the Los Angeles Police Department. The 40-minute firefight, much of which aired live on television, gripped the nation...

From the Archives: Siege at Foxcatcher Mansion - Teamwork and Patience Net Millionaire Murderer

This year marks the 20th anniversary of millionaire heir John du Pont killing David Schultz on his estate on January 26, 1996, and his subsequent arrest after holing up in his Pennsylvania mansion for two days. This story was originally published in our Sept/Oct 1996 issue.

From the Archives: The Iron 44 Incident - Handling the Incident within an Incident

On 5 August 2008, two pilots and seven firefighters assigned to the Iron Complex fire in California's Shasta-Trinity National Forest, were killed when Carson Helicopters Sikorsky S-61N helicopter N612AZ crashed on take-off. This is the story of the incident from the perspective of the communications unit for the Complex, and the challenges of working a new major incident in the middle of an existing major incident.

From the Archives: The Miracle at Quecreek: Challenges of Pennsylvania's 2002 Mine Rescue

In honor of the 15th Anniversary of Pennsylvyanias Quecreek mine rescue, 9-1-1 Magazine presents and archives our original coverage of the rescue, originally published in our Nov/Dec 2002 issue.

From the Archives: The South Asian Tsunami of 2004 – Politics & Emergency Aid (Amateur Radio)

As the Indian Ocean tsunami wiped out everything in its path, a worldwide broadcast for help triggered an international amateur radio response to lend its own unique form of assistance. Ham Radio operators throughout the region immediately began to report on the destruction around them and coordinate help and assistance for the disaster area. In addition, amateur operators utilized radio equipment that would assist on land, at sea, and from space.

From the Archives: The South Asian Tsunami of 2004 – Politics & Emergency Aid (Are We Safe?)

The devastation in Southeast Asia has graphically demonstrated one thing: tsunami dangers are real. Unfortunately, it has taken a disaster of that magnitude to make the American public aware of that fact. "Before that, you'd mention tsunami and people would snicker," said Gloria Morrison, Emergency Services Coordinator for the City of Huntington Beach, California. "Now people are paying closer attention."

From the Archives: The South Asian Tsunami of 2004 – Politics & Emergency Aid (EMS & Recovery)

From the Archives: The South Asian Tsunami of 2004 – Politics & Emergency Aid (Int'l Response)

In recognition of the 10th Anniversary of the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami, we present our original coverage of the disaster response from our March 2005 issue. The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami was spawned by a massive earthquake of magnitude 9.1-9.3, with with its epicenter off the west coast of Sumatra, Indonesia. It was the third largest earthquake ever recorded on a seismograph, and had the longest duration ever observed – between 8.3 and 10 minutes. The resulting series of...

From The Chair: The Chair Itself

Chairs that can do the job properly are not cheap, and they're certainly aren't found on sale at the local discount office supply store. Good dispatch chairs are rated for twenty-four hour use, and they carry a maximum load assurance right on them; usually 500 pounds or greater. The office supply chair that carries a weight rating above 250 pounds is rare, and "task" chairs are the worst of these.

From the Chair: "Living La Vida Macro"

Airplanes have black boxes. Sports, the instant replay. And dispatchers have the call logger. Each of these is invaluable when analyzing an incident. However, they don't tell the whole story. This is especially true of loggers in the dispatch center. This installment of "From the Chair" discusses the pitfalls of using a single-channel recording when investigating the handling of a call.

From the Chair: "Press or Push?"

You are right in the middle of a multiagency mass casualty event when the phone rings. Is it a commander in the field with important information? Is it one of the mutual aid agencies you are coordinating? No. It is a reporter from a local newspaper with a thousand and one questions; just what you needed! This installment of From the Chair takes a look at the relationship between the dispatcher and the media. It discusses how an effective Public Information Officer is a buffer between...

From The Chair: "Scanner Land!"

You just sat down to begin your shift. The cluster of screens before you glow brightly, and the radio test revealed no problems. Before long, you will handle the fire on Broadway, the domestic violence on State Street, and the fender bender at the mall. And of course you will wonder if the hundreds, if not thousands, of people looking over your shoulder will approve of the way you're doing your job. The latest installment of "From the Chair" takes an irreverent look at the love-hate...

From The Chair: 2B or Not 2B - That Is a Question?

When the great bard Shakespeare had Lord Polonius remark, "Though this be madness, yet there is method in 't," little did he know that he was describing the world of the modern PSAP. Now nearly 420 years later, From the Chair takes a whimsical and somewhat satirical look at the "madness" of how the public does and will communicate with the 9-1-1 center.

From the Chair: 9-1-1 Mobility

There is a tidal wave of change coming for the emergency telecommunications industry that is known simply as NG9-1-1. It's all about mobility now... The gurus in the high-tech industries have been busying themselves trying to solve some of the known problems, while simultaneously finding new and creative ways by which citizens can access emergency services...

From the Chair: 9-1-1 Standards - Leveling the Playing Field

The ultimate evolution of the 9-1-1 system is the elimination of jurisdiction based PSAPs. In their place would be a virtual nationwide network of PSAPs. It would no longer matter which 9-1-1 center receives a call, or by what method. Every PSAP regardless of its physical location would have the ability to dispatch local resources anywhere in the country. Such a system will require significant advances in present technology. Under the umbrella of the NG9-1-1 initiative, there are...

From The Chair: A Column for the Dispatcher

I've never met an "average dispatcher" in my life. Just as every human being is unique, so is every emergency telecommunicator. True, we may all talk in a similar fashion and act alike in given circumstances. When the rubber meets the road, we all handle emergency calls in pretty much the same manner. Where we differ is in how we individually perceive the world in general and how we deal with the stress that is part and parcel of the job.

From The Chair: Accepting the Inevitable: Schedules, Expectations & Things

"Accepting the Inevitable" addresses the reality of how shift work and the 24/7 world of the dispatch center effects the emotional, physical, and performance of the telecommunicator. It peels away the glossy surface of dispatching to expose the dirty details that every 9-1-1 professional has to confront from their first day on the job until the day they retire.

From the Chair: April Foolishness

It's amazing how time flies! April 2013 marks the one-year anniversary of "From the Chair" - a featured column in 9-1-1Magazine written for the frontline 9-1-1 telecommunicator. Its author - Paul Bagley - took us on a wild ride through the ever-changing landscape of public safety emergency communications. His breezy style was frequently irreverent, often whimsical, and sometimes touching. To conclude its first year, and to usher in the next, the latest installment takes a fun look at the...

From the Chair: Chain-of-Command - It's All A Pyramid Scheme

Many people claim that emergency services - dispatch included - are "paramilitary" organizations. I'm not completely certain that term applies since the prefix "para" is a shortened form of the word parachute in the military, and anyone whose job title begins with that prefix literally jumps voluntarily out of airplanes.

From the Chair: Chaos and Staffing

The character David Brent, from the BBC series "The Office," is known for his saying, "If you can keep your head when all around you have lost theirs, then you probably haven't understood the seriousness of the situation." When referring to a PSAP we can rewrite that to say, "If you can keep your head when all around you have lost theirs, then you are probably a telecommunicator." In this installment of From the Chair, Paul uses the paraphrase of Brent's humor to write about how the outbreak...

From the Chair: Dispatching Disease

Any high-stress sedentary job has the tendency to put on the pounds if the individual engaged in it isn't careful. Because of the many strenuous demands, dispatching can erode the physical well-being of a person quicker than hard liquor and illicit drugs combined. We all know that and, to a degree, we accept it. The question is, what do we do about it?

From the Chair: Dispatching is Simple - It's Just Not Easy!

Sometimes it helps to think of dispatching as though you're playing a board game. In a game you need to know how each piece moves in order to be any good at it.

From the Chair: Gripes, the Dichotomy of Dispatch, and the Sacred File

In the latest installment of "From the Chair," Paul takes a detour to discuss - perhaps rant might be a better word - his personal experiences in the dispatch center that were a constant source of aggravation. And the culprits? His own colleagues. The article is written humorously, but makes some important observations about the nature of the people who occupy the chair. You will certainly recognize the characters he describes, as they may be sitting right next to you; perhaps even the...

From the Chair: Is 9-1-1 Really a System?

Do you know what 9-1-1 is? Do you know how it works? Do you know what it's for? In this article, Paul raises and discusses several thought-provoking questions about the 9-1-1 system's past, present, and future.

From the Chair: Our Hang Ups

In this installment, "Our Hang Ups," Paul discusses the nemesis of all dispatchers - the hang up and dropped call. He reminiscences a bit about the good old days when dispatching was little more than answering the phone and sending someone out. He then turns his attention to the brave new world where the onrush of new technologies is profoundly altering the operation of the PSAP, and creating ever-increasing challenges for the modern telecommunicator. To paraphrase the late American hero...

From the Chair: Preparing for the Unthinkable

In the latest installment of From the Chair, Paul pays tribute to the dispatchers working in the Newtown (CT) Emergency Communications Center on the day of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. He goes on to discuss how they were able to control the chaos of the active shooter incident, and still maintain the order and normal function of their center. He concludes with a warning that what the Newtown dispatchers did would have been impossible without careful preparation and planning...

From the Chair: Requiem for a Dispatcher

When you think of hazardous jobs what comes to mind: firefighters, high-rise steel workers, bomb disposal technicians, 9-1-1 dispatchers? Dispatchers? What is the hazard of sitting in a secure room behind a cluster of computer monitors, answering phone calls, and talking on a radio? Plenty! In this edition of "From the Chair," Paul Bagley presents a real-life cautionary tale to remind us just how dangerous dispatching can be. The take-away lesson may just save your life.

From The Chair: Semantics Makes All the Difference

Often it seems as though how we say something conveys more information than what we actually say; and, of course, vice versa. Nowhere is this truer than in the profession of emergency telecommunications. In addition to everything else that dispatchers must do in their daily routine, today they must be diplomats, and true diplomacy requires a new paradigm regarding language skills.

From The Chair: Socialized Media

So far it's been a quiet night. You handled a few disturbances, a handful of family disputes, and an alarm here and there. Then this pops up in your queue: "d 5-o crash on jensen ppl hurt tnk cUd B trapd." Wow! Your first text message since your center started receiving them. No problem, it's clear as day. Or is it? Your dispatching who, to where, for what? This installment of From the Chair looks at a future where 9-1-1 inevitably collides with "Socialized Media."

From The Chair: The Ever-Onward March of Technology

It is difficult to faze 9-1-1 dispatchers. But there is one phrase that strikes terror in them, "We're upgrading!" This installment of From the Chair asks the question, "Is introducing the latest and greatest technology really helping to do the job better?" To explore that question the article focuses on the CAD.

From the Chair: The Holidays Approach - Big Whoop!

In the latest installment of From the Chair, Paul turns his attention to the holiday season. With an irreverent wink, some humor, and a dash of sarcasm, Paul looks at the relationship between holidays and the 9-1-1 telecommunicator. The article concludes with a poignant message to those who find themselves in the chair on those special days.

From The Chair: The Myth of CAD

In the good old days, back when I began my flirtation with this insane career now known as emergency telecommunications, the idea of computer-aided dispatching was no more on the radar than were computers themselves. Computers were giant rooms full of electronic gear that nerdy high-techie-types tinkered with at Berkeley and MIT, not something that sat upon virtually every desk in a police or fire station, or resided inside police vehicles or fire trucks...

From the Field: 2nd Alarm Operations in Camden City, NJ

On March 18, 2014 a dwelling fire was dispatched in Camden City (NJ) to an address on Mechanic Street. Engine 8 and the Battalion arrived and reported heavy fire conditions in a 2-story middle-of-the-row dwelling. Command struck the All Hands.

From the Field: 2nd Alarm Vacant Dwelling Fire in Camden City, NJ

On August 7th, 2014 around 2 A.M a dwelling fire was reported on the 700 block of Spruce Street in Camden City. Companies arrived with heavy fire conditions from a two-story dwelling with extension. Companies arrived and secured water supplies and went into operation with a 2 ½" hand line. A 2nd Alarm was transmitted.

From The Field: 5-Alarm Commercial Structure Fire Destroys San Jose Businesses

On Saturday, February 14th, 2015, at 0657 hours, the San José Fire Department received a report of a structure fire in a light industrial section of the city at 1041 Commercial Street in Station 5’s first due response area. Upon arrival, the crew of Engine 5 quickly struck a second-alarm as they were confronted with heavy smoke and fire showing from a commercial metal structure

From the Field: 5-alarm fire destroys Santa Clara townhouses under construction

On Wednesday, May 9, 2012 units of the Santa Clara (CA) Fire Department were dispatched to Hillebrant Place inside the Boulevard condominium complex for reports of a fire working in a block of unfinished structures. Arriving units confirmed a working fire and quickly called for a second alarm to contend with the rapidly intensifying blaze. As the fire continued to grow residents throughout the complex stood by in awe as flames shot high into the night sky...

From the Field: 8th Alarm Warehouse Fire in New Jersey

Less then 48 hours after a 12 Alarm fire in Camden City, New Jersey, crews were back at work on another multiple alarm fire. Companies were dispatched to the 400 block of Winslow St. at 2:23 after 911 received a call for the big building on fire at that location on June 11, 2011.

From the Field: All Hands Structure Fire, Runnemede NJ

On March 9th, 2017 a dwelling fire was reported on E. 3rd Ave in Runnemede. First arriving units reported heavy fire conditions from a single family wood frame dwelling. Command struck the All Hands box.

From the Field: Apartment Fire in Norcross, Georgia

On Monday afternoon, October 17th, 2011 the Gwinnett County 9-1-1 communications center began receiving calls just after 1:00 PM of an apartment fire at the Highpointe Village Apartments. As companies were responding a large column of smoke could be seen in the vicinity of the alarm. First arriving companies found a three story building with heavy involvement. The fire building contained 20 apartments, of which ten were destroyed

From the Field: Atlanta Fire Engine Crash

On the morning of April 13, Atlanta Engine 2 was responding to a working structure fire along with Truck 2 in southeast Atlanta. While en route to the fire, Engine 2 was involved in an accident. The apparatus left the roadway and struck a large oak tree.

From the Field: Camden City All-Hands Building Fire

On November 2nd 2012, a building fire was reported at 27th St. and Federal St. in East Camden near the firehouse. Battalion 2 arrived and reported a 1 story vacant building with heavy smoke and fire showing. The All Hands box was struck as Command reported a gas fed fire in the rear of the building with heavy fire conditions.

From the Field: Camden City NJ All Hands Dwelling

On January 5th, 2012 Camden City Units were dispatched for a reported dwelling fire at S. 4th and Royden St.s. A full box was dispatched as Camden County Communications were receiving multiple calls. Engine 1 arrived on location with heavy fire showing. Battalion 1 reported a 2 story twin with heavy fire striking the All Hands box.

From the Field: Camden City NJ: Massive 12 Alarm Building Fire

"It was like a Firestorm" - Camden City Chief of Department Michael Harper. Firefighters were called to Chestnut and Orchard St. on Thursday June 9th, 2011 several minutes before 4 p.m in the Parkside neighborhood. An off Duty Camden City Firefighter who lived on the block reported the Old Tire Factory with heavy fire showing 1st and 2nd floors. Battalion 1 arrived and reported a block long warehouse with heavy fire conditions and exposure problems requesting the All Hands and to start the...

From the Field: Cherry Hill NJ 2nd Alarm Building Fire

On March 17, 2013 Cherry Hill (New Jersey) firefighters were alerted of a building fire on Rt. 70 at 3:30 A.M. EMS arrived on location and reported a working fire. Battalion 13 arrived and reported a one story commercial property well involved with exposure problems on the B and D sides. Crews set up for defensive operations.

From the Field: Fatality in Arcata Vehicle/Structure Fire

On the morning of July 20th, 2014, Arcata (CA) Fire Protection District personnel responded to the 9000 block of West End Road, after receiving a report of a vehicle on fire in the garage of a residence with an occupant trapped. The first arriving engine reported a well involved structure with heavy smoke and fire in the rear of the residence...

From the Field: Fire Destroys Travel Trailer, Damages Home in Flanders, NJ

A Flanders family's vacation went up in smoke on June 12th as fire destroyed the family's travel trailer and damaged their home. Firefighters from the Flanders Fire Company #1 and Rescue Squad extinguished the fire. There were no injuries.

From the Field: Fire heavily damages historic building in Fort Worth

Firefighters in Fort Worth, Texas, battle an early morning fire in the city's historical district on January 24, 2012. The report came into 9-1-1 shortly after 3AM, and took several hours to extinguish. The fire heavily damaged the Victorian Apartments on Hemphill Street, a vacant 1920s-era structure...

From the Field: Firefighters injured fighting three-alarm blaze

...As firefighters began to arrive on scene a working structure fire was confirmed by the officer of Truck 30 with flames and smoke showing from the second floor and roof of the two story, multi-unit apartment building. Firefighters quickly established an offensive attack with crews stretching lines to the interior of the building and going to the roof to provide ventilation.

From the Field: Firefighters make Quick Stop on Rapidly-Escalating Structure Fire in McKinleyville, CA

On June 19, 2014, Arcata Fire District personnel responded to the 1800 Block of Columbus Rd, McKinleyville (Humboldt County, California) after receiving a report of a residential structure fire. Firefighters arrived and found the structure 20% involved in fire with flames coming out of the front door. One firefighters began a defensive fire attack while the second operated the engine as they waited for additional personnel to arrive. The next engine to arrive was out of the Arcata Station...

From the Field: Flanders (NJ) firefighters prevent car fire from becoming a house fire

Quick action by Flanders, New Jersey, firefighters prevented a fully involved car fire from becoming a house fire Monday afternoon, Dec. 29.

From The Field: Haddonfield NJ High Angle Rescue for Crane Accident

On February 7, 2013 at 12:30 a high angle rescue was dispatched in Haddonfield, New Jersey, at 520 Woodland Ave. Crews arrived to find a crane that tipped and was suspended in air supported by the outriggers. One occupant was injured on the roof. The uninjured operator was trapped in the vehicle by live wires on the roof.

From The Field: Lyons Peak Lightning Strike Seen from Comms Antenna Tower

One of the antenna-mounted observation cameras on Southern California's High Performance Wireless Research and Education Network (HPWREN) captures a lightning strike on Thurs, Sept. 20, 2010. These cameras have been installed in strategic locations on remote mountain tops, overlooking vast areas of mountainous brush and chaparral, and are often used by firefighters to confirm the location or status of an active wild fire...

From the Field: Massive fire destroys San Jose warehouses, injures one

On Saturday, July 24th, 2014, at 3:27 am, San José Firefighters responded to a commercial-industrial section of the city after a large column of smoke was seen rising from the area. Crews located the source of the smoke at 1596 South 7th Street, directly south of Spartan Stadium... Incident Commander José Guerrero immediately called for defensive operations and ultimately five alarms were struck summoning firefighters from all over the city and from neighboring departments.

From the Field: Pennsauken NJ – Overturned Tanker Fire

At 11 A.M. on Monday February 22, 2015 Pennsauken units were dispatched for a vehicle fire at Route 130 and Rt. 90. Crews arrived to find a tanker truck carrying 8000 gallons of fuel overturned and on fire...

From the Field: Pennsauken NJ MVA Rescue 1 trapped/1 ejected

On May 17, 2014, a multiple patient vehicle accident occurred on Rte. 130 in Pennsauken, New Jersey, requiring a major response of fire and EMS resources...

From the Field: Philadelphia 4th Alarm School Fire

At 1:45 p.m. on August 3rd, 2011 the Philadelphia Fire Department was dispatched for a reported building fire at 7th and Lehigh Ave in the City. Battalion 8 arrived and reported a 4 story vacant school with heavy fire conditions on the 3rd floor and roof area. Companies set up for defensive operations. Extra Alarms were sounded as fire went through the roof. Crews surrounded the building and placed multiple Ladder Pipes, and hand lines in operation.

From the Field: Popular San Jose restaurant gutted by four-alarm blaze

On Saturday, January 18, 2013, at 0623 hours, firefighters at San Jose Fire Station 9 were alerted to a blaze at the Flames Coffee Shop located across the street from the firehouse. Upon exiting the station's apparatus bay the officer of Engine 9 reported heavy pressurized smoke showing from the roof of the structure. A second-alarm was immediately struck and a defensive strategy was established. Third and fourth-alarms were struck as crews worked to contain the fire to the restaurant.

From the Field: Sacramento - Commercial Building Fire

Shortly after midnight on Sept. 24, members of the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District were dispatched to 5725 Marconi Avenue in Carmichael (CA) for reports of fire and explosions in a commercial building. First units arriving, only 2 and a half minutes after dispatch, found the structure already heavily involved in fire, with extension into the attic. Firefighters immediately started attacking the fire from the ground, while truck crews ventilated the roof of the roughly 7,000 square foot...

From the Field: Tractor-trailer overturn near Elizabethtown, PA

Elizabethtown Fire Dept. Engine Company 74 along with Northwest EMS, Rheems Fire Engine 70, and Northwest Region PD traffic unit responded to Mount Gretna Rd. and Prospect Road for an overturned tractor-trailer crash in Mount Joy Township, Pennsylvania. The solo-vehicle accident occurred on the afternoon of Tuesday, Oct 21 in Lancaster County, PA.

From the Field: Two dwellings heavily involved in Pennsauken, New Jersey

On March 24, 2013 a dwelling fire was reported in Pennsauken on the 1700 block of 41st street around 6 p.m. Command 1100 reported a dwelling, garage and boat heavily involved with fire already extending into the exposure dwelling. The All Hands box was struck...

From the Field: USFS Spots Smokey Bear at Balloon Festival

Found on Twitter: The US Forest Service posted this image of a Smokey Bear lighter-than-air balloon aloft in the midst of this week's annual Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque, New Mexico

From the Field: Wildland fire burns nearly 200 acres in South San Jose

On Monday, June 30, 2014, at 1340 PM, 9-1-1 calls began to flood the San Jose Fire Department Communications Center with reports of a vegetation fire in the Santa Teresa Hills above Curie Drive on the city’s south side, threatening homes and a county park... With fire spreading quickly in the tinder dry vegetation a call went out for more firefighters eventually making this blaze a four-alarm incident. Initial estimates place the size of the fire at nearly 200 acres...

From the Field: Woodbury Heights Heavily involved dwelling

On February 26, 2012 a dwelling fire was reported on Glennwood Ct. in Woodbury Heights (NJ) at 5:30 p.m. Police arrived on location and reported a working fire. Command arrived and struck the All Hands box for heavy fire from Division A-D. Engine 1511 laid in to secure a water supply as the crew led off with a 2 1/2" hand line. The company went in but were driven out for heavy fire conditions.

From-the-Field - Campbell, CA: Cigarette ignites townhouse fire

On Monday, June 11, 2012, at 7:03 PM, units of the Santa Clara County Fire Department responded to a report of fire in a two story townhouse located at 231 Shelley Avenue in Campbell, California. The first firefighters to arrive on scene were confronted by heavy fire showing from the second floor of the structure.

From-The-Field: Camden, NJ: Two Three-House Working Fires In Same Day

Engine 1 arrived on location with heavy fire showing. Battalion 2 arrived and reported a 2-story end of the row dwelling with heavy fire 1st and 2nd floors with extension. The All Hands box was transmitted as three structures were involved... Later that same day, Camden firefighters battled a second working fire also involving three dwellings. ...

From-the-Field: Two-alarm fire destroys vacant North San Jose home

Smoke enveloped a North San Jose neighborhood as fire consumed a one-story residential structure at 2918 Via Encinitas on Sunday, June 21, 2015. Firefighters from Station 23 arrived on scene and discovered the home fully involved in fire with exposures threatened. Defensive operations were initiated on the main fire building with arriving crews working to protect adjacent homes.

Future Proofing the Communications Environment: How to Maximize Your Investment

Modern public safety agencies need more than a crystal ball to plan for the ever-evolving technology environment surrounding public safety communications. Communications equipment is a long term, major investment and establishing a communications environment that is "future proof" while serving the user's needs today requires that agencies ask all the right questions before deciding which solution is best for them.

Georgia PSAP Launches Smart911 SMS

Information is knowledge and knowledge can save lives in an emergency. The City of Sandy Springs will be the first city in Georgia to use a new 9-1-1 system that will provide first responders vital information instantly. They will also be the first city in the United States to allow 9-1-1 operators to be able to initiate texting with emergency callers.

Get Out Of The Way: A Guide to Proactive Dispatching (from the Archives)

In terms of leading, following, or surreptitiously standing aside, followers tend to be reactive - they react to situations and proceed accordingly. Leaders tend to be proactive - they understand and anticipate needs and act prior to situations occurring, and possibly in time to change the outcome of those situations. Both styles are valid responses to emergency situations, but being proactive tends to give one a better edge in managing that response.

Getting to Go: The untold story of all the work and hand-shake partnerships leading up to an information-sharing project

How a driven law enforcement leader and an equally committed public safety software vendor created a blueprint for success for RMS-vendor neutral information sharing projects, with officer safety as the cornerstone.

Glancing Back: Miracle on the Hudson - The Rescue of Flight 1594 - The View from Dispatch

Yesterday marks the third anniversary of the emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River that saved the lives of all 155 people on board the aircraft. Revisit our coverage from the FDNY responders and dispatch staff, from our Jan/Feb 2009 issue.

Godspeed, Joplin: Fire Stations Among Buildings Destroyed by Deadly Twister

FEMA administrator Craig Fugate speaks with a Joplin firefighter in front of what used to be one of the town's five fire stations. This and one other station were destroyed by the deadly tornado that smashed the community on May 22.

GPS Tracking Technology Deemed Beneficial by Privacy Advocates

GPS tracking technologies for pursuit management, often called "GPS bullets," are among the most promising alternatives to high-speed police chases. Quite literally, a well-placed GPS tag on a fleeing vehicle is a ‘bullet’ that can save lives. The less-than-lethal GPS pursuit management system is comprised of two small, cylinder-shaped projectiles each containing a miniature GPS tracker, tipped with an industrial-strength adhesive. The launching mechanism, powered by compressed-air, is...

Grime Prevention: Do Your Comm Center Consoles Need Cleaning?

Walk into any emergency dispatch facility today, no matter where, and look just beneath the surface. There you will find a disgusting mess worthy of a cable television reality show. Greasy grime. Dust bunnies running rampant. Coffee stains. Food particles deep inside cavities seemingly lost forever. Computers and radio equipment covered in filth.

Ground Zero 9-1-1: FDNY Communications on September 11th

On September 11th... I arrived at my union office to see the doorman watching TV. On the screen was something I never imagined would happen. A plane had slammed into #1 World Trade Center. I stared in amazement as massive flames and profuse black smoke engulfed the upper floors. I knew in an instant that I had to get to the Manhattan central office. They were going to need help.

Grounded: Fire, medical aircraft impacted by Sept 11th Sky Closure

Federal authorities immobilized the US air traffic system for the first time in history on September 11 after the hijacking of four planes and subsequent suicide crashes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.... The NIFC jet out of Boise was one of the first non-military and non-medical aircraft allowed to fly. Its crew transported three national incident management teams - people who usually handle wildland fire - back to assist with the aftermath.

Harris Corporation to Upgrade Emergency Communications Network in Franklin County, North Carolina

Harris Corporation, an international communications and information technology company, has received a $9 million contract from Franklin County, North Carolina, to upgrade its legacy analog emergency communications to a Harris P25(IP) (Project 25 to the power of Internet Protocol) solution.

Harris County Mobile Command

In order to facilitate a rapid response to any type of incident, the Harris County Sheriff''s Office has strategically placed a number of Mobile Command Posts (MCPs) throughout the county. These vehicles also provide regional response capabilities and support to the 13 county region surrounding Harris County.

Harris County Sheriff's Office Joint Operations Command (JOC) Super Bowl LI Deployment

In 2015, the Harris County Sheriffs Office began the buildout of a unique, one of a kind mobile command vehicle to be used in support of Super Bowl LI in Houston, TX February 5, 2017. The platform for this unit was a 2005 53 command trailer that was used as a mobile Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) until its decommission in 2014.

Heads-Up on Dispatcher Headgear

Perhaps no piece of communications equipment is less costly but more important than the headset. Where telephone or radio transmissions must be clearly made and received, particularly in busy environments like communications centers, headsets offer obvious options over conventional speakers and desk microphones. By placing both the microphone and speaker closer to the telecommunicator's mouth and ears respectively, headsets help to cut down background noise and improve the quality of both...

High Stress Leads to High BMI in Emergency Dispatchers

For many dispatchers, the combination of high stress, unhealthy eating habits, and a sedentary lifestyle are a recipe for obesity, heart problems, depression, and other health problems.

Home On The Range: Are Effective Changes In Place To Prevent Terrorism On America's Homefront?

Five Years Later: What has happened since September 11, 2001 to instill confidence in homeland security for America? Cosmetic changes, visible security enhancements in certain places, and booming business for government bureaucracy. It is still the same bureaucracy that left civilian targets vulnerable to terrorist attacks in the first place, according to Congressional investigators.

Homeland Security in America: Past, Present, and Future

Since 9/11, our nation has seen the initiation and implementation or two national warning systems, the most recent of which was launched in April of last year. Weve also seen the emergence of several emergency and disaster related citizen support groups, designed to serve law enforcement agencies and first responders at all levels of government - city, county, state, and federal. Furthermore, weve seen critical information being placed on government websites for public officials, first...

Homeland Security: Value of Suspicious Activity Reports Dependent on Technology

Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) could be one of the most promising data sources for effective threat analysis in the coming years, and under the NSI program (National SAR Initiative), law enforcement agencies can submit local reports for analysis by participating agencies as well as compare their local reports to the broader database to find matches and vet threats for their regions. This kind of reporting and analysis is key to identifying people like those who, prior to 9/11, were...

Houston FD's Emergency TeleHealth and Navigation Solution Modernizes EMS with Mobile Video Teleconferencing

With more than 400 EMS transports daily, Houston FD realized that its EMS response algorhythms were outdated and overused. In order to solve this complex problem and provide more coordinated out-of-hospital care, HFD created ETHAN (Emergency TeleHealth and Navigation), which uses video conferencing technology to allow patients and on-site EMTs to instantaneously communicate face-to-face with qualified physicians to determine the most appropriate medical care solution...

Houston Firefighters Bring Digital Doctors On Calls

City officials implemented a program designed to connect residents in their homes with a doctor, via the emergency medical technicians and firefighters who answer the call.

How 9/11 Has Changed Law Enforcement Intelligence Analysis

As the nation struggled to understand how something like 9/11 could occur on American soil, information came to light about breakdowns in information sharing between law enforcement agencies that might have helped prevent it. Predictably, there was a heated outcry to fix those breakdowns in order to protect our citizens from similar threats in the future... So, what has been done since those dark days to improve information sharing and law enforcement intelligence analysis? Actually, quite a...

How AI Gives a Razor Edge to Security & Surveillance Systems

AI for Public Safety: A Multi-Pronged Force - AI involves the use of extremely intelligent computerized systems for automating or doing human tasks. If implemented precisely, AI can emerge as a potent force that can make governments and public safety authorities more powerful, more prepared and more efficient.

How Body Worn Cameras Can Enhance Public Safety

Richie McBride, Managing Director at Edesix, looks at how advancements in body worn camera technology, can help solve security and management challenges for those in public facing roles.

How Emerging Technology Can Augment Urban Search and Rescue Communications

United States Urban Search & Rescue (US&R) teams are among the best and most highly-trained in the world. But often the success and failure of operations is dictated not by training or ability, but rather by the equipment at a teams disposal ... In the critical search phase of the operation, technologies designed to locate trapped persons have proven frustratingly ineffective, and the extent of a team leaders ability to communicate locations and information is often simply imprecise verbal...

How Good is Tsunami Preparedness in the United States?

On the 10-year anniversary of the deadly December 26, 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami, coastal communities in the U.S. are significantly better prepared for tsunamis than they have been at any time in the past. Tsunami preparedness programs at the State, Territory, and Commonwealth level have worked through the Western States Seismic Policy Council (WSSPC) and the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program (NTHMP) to improve tsunami preparedness at a local level.

How Intrado's ECRC Softened Sandy's Blow

In October 2012, Hurricane Sandy made history as the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of that years Atlantic hurricane season... The day Sandy hit, nearly 20,000 calls were received every hour (the NYC 9-1-1 system typically processes about 30,000 emergency requests for assistance - per day). The Intrado Emergency Call Relay Center (ECRC) took the calls, found out exactly where the callers were, determined the nature of the emergencies and redirected the calls to the

How Long Should Training Take?

There is a question I hear again and again and often see posted to the various 9-1-1-related newsgroups. Let's examine this question: how long should it take to train a public safety dispatcher?

How Public-Private Collaboration Can Improve Emergency Communications in Local Government

All local governments - and especially their first responders and emergency management personnel - face major challenges when dealing with "black swan" events such as ice storms in the South, terrorist bombs at marathons, random shootings in schools and cyber attacks just about anywhere. No city or state has the resources to adequately protect their citizens against all possible hazards in our modern, 21st century threat environment.

How the FCC’s Text-to-911 ruling impacts emergency responders

Every year, 9-1-1 dispatchers receive 240 million calls, many of which save lives. But it's not always possible or safe to call, especially for the 48 million Americans who are deaf or hearing impaired and the 7.5 million with speech disabilities, many of whom rely on texting. A new ruling by the FCC, however, offers citizens more ways to contact 9-1-1 by mandating that all wireless carriers and some message services support Text-to-911 by the end of the year. In life or death situations,...

How Wearables Can Improve Public Safety

With wearables tied to Bluetooth Beacons and harnessing the power of GPS, responders will know the exact location of their team in a building or out in the field, enabling them to be more responsive during a crisis. More importantly, wearable technology will harness the abilities of WiFi mesh networks, Beacons and powerful communication applications to improve public safety and streamline tasks...

Hurricane Sandy - One Year Later: Why Satellite Technology Should be a Part of Emergency Planning

As evidenced during and after Superstorm Sandy, satellite networks played a major role in ensuring continuity of communications, keeping emergency responders, businesses and people connected when terrestrial services were disrupted or unavailable. First responders and public safety managers experienced first-hand the critical need to communicate during a crisis to effectively respond and manage field resources, including organizations assisting with recovery efforts. Government leaders in...

I Am Not An Animal!: When Old Tricks Training Isn't Enough

If you have a training program that evaluates only performance and skills you may be using a learning theory called behaviorism. Behaviorism is a theory of animal and human learning that only focuses on observable behaviors and discounts mental activities. It is true that learning is supposed to result in a change of behavior but not only behavior. So, what does this have to do console training? Do you ever wonder why a trainee can perform perfectly for you but when they get out there on...

I Survived the 2015 California MCC Rally

This was the best MCC Rally we have attended so far. It was a beautiful venue along the courtyard next to the Sacramento Convention Center, plus they ordered us great weather. It was a complicated rally for the MCC team because of the busy downtown venue and the narrow access along the street.

I Swear!

In 1972, Comedian George Carlin had a popular routine based upon seven words that you can't say on television. Although cable TV has relaxed the former network rules, several of these words are still not politely uttered in the PSAP even 35 years after the fact. And when they are spoken nowadays, it may not be a laughing matter.

ICS at Ground Zero: Incident Management Teams in NYC

There are 16 national Type 1 Incident Management Teams (IMTs) across the country. Though they mostly deal with wildland fire, they're also dispatched for non-fire incidents such as floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. One of FEMA's 12 emergency support functions is firefighting, and under ESF-4 the teams can be activated from the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho. The teams are prepared to use the Incident Command System (ICS) to handle just about any situation. But no...

Identifying Value in PSAP Consolidations

One, perhaps indirect way to perceive trends in the public safety industry is to count the frequency of certain types of RFPs that cross consultants' desks. So it is noteworthy to those of us in the consulting business that, although subjects such as NG 9-1-1 might be expected to generate the majority of requests for help, in fact, we find we are receiving even more requests to support either studying the feasibility of PSAP consolidation or for planning and implementing such consolidations.

Impressions of Hell: A First Hand Report from the WTC

Initially, there seemed to be a lot of disorganization for the first several days as the leadership scrambled to keep up with the volunteers who showed up and the teams that were deployed to help out. Most teams though, especially the FEMA ones, were well organized among themselves and were capable of running autonomously even if little or no input from higher up was forthcomming

Improve Morale In Your 9-1-1 Comm Center: Employee Recognition Ideas

In The Beginning

In the beginning, there were no dispatchers or phones and 9-1-1 was just a fantasy in some poor cop's mind. How the heck did the public get help? How did Marshal Dillon know Miss Kitty was in trouble? Screaming loudly might help.

Incident Command and Control in the Age of the UAV

We’ve all seen the amazing, high-def drone videos that have been posted online, whether they have been spectacular images of incredible landscapes and scenery, or remarkable perspectives of cityscapes and more. But as UAV hobbyists seek to use their drones to capture remarkable images of emergency responses, we’ve seen how they are interfering with incident management and emergency mitigation.

Incident Command System: The Next Generation?

Designated the Next-Generation Incident Command System (NICS), its developers depict it as "a combination of tools, technologies, and an innovative concept of operations for emergency response." It's what a lot of us in public safety have been waiting for since laptops and mobile computers first found a place inside our command centers, mobile command vehicles, and chief officers' vehicles

Incident Leadership & Management: Dispatch in a Post-9/11 Era

When public safety communication centers and their personnel are not appropriately engaged in planning and preparedness efforts the results are predictable - the planning is incomplete. The need to achieve effective and efficient communications along with appropriate involvement of public safety communications centers is a constant lesson learned referenced in after action reports. In this article, we will explore the principles and practices of the Incident Command System (ICS) as it...

Increasing Efficiencies through EMS Responder Tracking

Technology is changing the way EMS first-responders work and is creating improved methods that save time throughout the entire first-response process - from the initial 9-1-1 call through record-keeping. This article will explore how Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) and GPS tracking technology is transforming the industry, and how EMS companies can leverage the latest trends to increase efficiencies, ultimately leading to time savings, reduced costs and improved patient care.

Information - A First Responder's First Line Of Defense

We live in a mobile era of cell phones, text messaging, instant messaging, and email. Information is only ever one search away on a computer, MDC, Smart Phone, or other handheld device, so the question becomes, why didn't the First Responders dispatched to this domestic dispute call illustrated above have this mission-critical and potentially life-saving information at their finger tips?

Information Overload and the 9-1-1 Dispatcher

February, 2008 marked the 40th anniversary of the initiation of 9-1-1 service in the United States. In the four decades since that first call was made in Halleyville, Alabama much has changed.

Information Sharing in the Era of Social Media

There are three areas of emergency communications that have seen progress, but need continued improvement: interoperability between responding agencies and other municipalities; incoming information to Public Safety Answering Points (PSAPs) and 9-1-1 dispatch centers; and delivering information to an engaged and connected public, given the rise in popularity of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook.

Information Sharing: Field Officers & Dispatch is Key to Fusion Center Success

Information needs to be collected and routed through the intelligence chain to achieve success...The details that dispatchers, first responders, and emergency communication staff encounter can be critical to the genesis of good intelligence. Their insights can make all the difference when it comes to deciding if something is amiss and escalating that information or hunch to the appropriate levels.

Innocent Blood: Shots Fired in Newtown

Active shooters have now become such a part of public safety's life that the names of the communities in which they occur run together in a liturgy reminiscent of the battles of our Civil War... Now, Columbine is not even alone in Colorado in this distinction. And if misery truly does love company, they are comfortably surrounded by the Virginia Techs, and Clackamases, and Newtowns of our country...

Integration Does Not Need to be Painful

How Scheduling Software Helps Achieve Higher Level of Efficiency

Internal Politics: Lessons Learned on The Pile

You've all seen the pictures on television, in newspapers, or in other media, all showing the devastation of what was once called the World Trade Center. What you haven't heard about was the relationship between the New York rescuers and the teams sent from throughout the country to help perform Search and Rescue operations at Ground Zero... What are some of the lessons we learned there, that we could make use of in our own agencies?

Internet Access to 9-1-1 Through VoIP and SMS - When Signals Are Blocked

Many conference centers, facilities for corporate retreats, and other gathering facilities began to block all internet access unless it goes through their systems. How will this affect persons who depend on a VoIP or SMS Internet connection to access 9-1-1 services in those locations?

Interoperability Will Work For Public Safety

Network interoperability is not a new or particularly difficult concept. Competing networks talk to each other and share vital data effectively and securely every day. Verizon already works with other carriers, including AT&T, to provide interoperable services across networks, with both carriers managing the security of the traffic back and forth.

IP Intercoms Assist Classroom Support and Emergency Response at UNC Charlotte

Finding a solution to an ongoing problem about reporting malfunctioning audio/visual equipment at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte unexpectedly resulted in a solution that would eventually be used for emergency communications on campus.

Is There a Place for Social Media in Public Safety?

The Internet is public. Even when comments or posts are sent directly to a specific distribution group or only shared with friends there is nothing stopping these individuals from forwarding, re-posting, or sharing with others. There is nothing more embarrassing than complaining about a co-worker (or your boss) only to have them eventually receive and read your comments.

Is Your PSAP Ready for NG9-1-1?

NG9-1-1 will bring to PSAPs a whole new level of emergency response capabilities. The ability to receive and share multimedia information will have a huge impact on public safety. By providing law enforcement, fire fighters, EMTs, and other emergency crews with more detailed and complete information about the situations they are about to encounter, they will be better prepared to perform their jobs successfully.

It Doesn’t Take An Einstein: How Mishandling Our Staffing Crisis Puts 9-1-1 at Risk

Many of the programs designed to fix 9-1-1 staffing shortages have been work without teeth. While it gave 9-1-1 directors and managers vindication for their oft-voiced concerns over staffing, it didn’t compel the city fathers to do a darn thing. And therein lies the problem. Our illness has been diagnosed by independent professionals for over a decade, but we’ve yet to find a cure. Well, it’s certainly time that we embarked on a course of serious treatment. Here’s ten things we can do...

It's NOT Your Mother's 9-1-1

9-1-1 has come a long way baby. 20 years ago there was no such thing as a Training Manager, simulators, certification, or dispatch academy. What is missing? What is needed? A Police Chief told me about his 'core group' (solid for 10-20 years) and - the revolving door group (hired in the last 3 years). What's up?... If the 10-20 employees thrived, we can assume - back then - that we hired the right people, had great training, negativity was rare, shiftwork was easier, we didn't fear...

Jaguar Pounces on Child Predators

Consumers of child pornography break the law when they download photos and videos from file-sharing networks. But police are more concerned with the porn producers uploading the files. Every new posting means a child is in harm's way. To accelerate the acquisition of information needed to arrest child predators, law enforcement officers have teamed with data analytics experts at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for a project that will use Jaguar, one of the world's fastest supercomputers, to...

John Oliver Examines 9-1-1 Technology Deficiencies on Last Week Tonight

The HBO parody news TV series Last Week Tonight with John Oliver brought its usual match-up of humorous asides with often comprehensive reporting to the state-of-the-art of 9-1-1 technology in Sunday’s night’s show (May 15). It's a well-rounded examination and not critical of 9-1-1 dispatchers; Oliver recognized the difficult jobs dispatchers have and the stress the job puts them under, while focusing primarily on technological and funding issues that are out of their control

Johnson County Command-1

In January of 1993, a Mobile Communications Unit designated "1070" was placed in service, available to respond to any major fire or EMS incident to assist the command staff. By 2003, with county command staff recognizing the value of on-scene communications support teams and realizing the limitations of the existing Communications unit 1070, started the process of acquiring a new, larger mobile communications vehicle.

Jonesboro Is Fired Up About FSA I/O Fire Dispatch System

The City of Jonesboro, a thriving municipality of 70,000, home to Arkansas State University and major companies like NicePak and Nestle, was outgrowing its emergency dispatch capabilities as times and technologies changed. As Jeff Presley, E9-1-1 Director for the City and Craighead County describes, "We were using an analog paging system that was antiquated, trying to patch into the States new digital 700/800MHz radio system. We needed to find something reliable, a secure pathway between our...

K9 Turn Over

This K9 unit from the Greenville County (SC) Sheriff's Department lies on its roof after flipping over after a collision with another car last November 11th. The deputy and his canine partner were responding to fill with another unit when he struck a car pulling out of a driveway. Both the deputy and the dog escaped the car without injury; the driver of the other car was treated at a local hospital and released. The crash is being investigated by the Sheriff's Dept. and the South Carolina...

K9's Get A Lift in Coast Guard Shipboard Training

The hoist up the WW2 Liberty Ship Jeremiah OBrien is part of the dogs' ongoing training program designed to expose them to all of the fields they could be potentially called to serve in. They are both bomb-sniffing dogs, and typically search for explosive material on ferries and in warehouses and port facilities. Their training, however, sometimes requires them to be transported to assets that they are not naturally comfortable with, such as airplanes or moving boats.

Kitty Genovese Killer Dies in Prison at 81. Did His Crime Result in the Adoption Of 9-1-1 System?

The man convicted of the 1964 stabbing death of Kitty Genovese in a crime that came to symbolize urban decay and indifference has died in prison at the age of 81, reported the Associated Press today. AP’s headline, “Winston Moseley Dies At 81. His Crime Spurred Adoption Of The 9-1-1 System,” was widely repeated in newspapers and websites around the country. But – is it really true?

Lake County Weathers "Snowmageddon"

On February 2, 2011, Lake County Emergency Management had to mobilize for the third-largest snowstorm to ever hit the area. Although the county's public safety agencies were prepared for the event, many of its residents were not. As the storm quickly escalated, calls came pouring in to assist stranded motorists and residents in need of medical attention. Coordination between first responders from several municipalities - some on snowmobiles, snowplows and front loaders - over a large area...

Las Vegas Fire & Rescue's Mobile Command & Communications Unit

After working on plans for the new Mobile Command Center for nearly a year, work began in October 2003. The unit was delivered to the department in May after being exhibited by Pierce at the FDIC East in Indianapolis. The interior of the Mobile Command Unit (MCU) is divided into three areas: public information, communications, and command & control.

Law Enforcement at the Edge - Three Ways Edge IT Improves Public Safety

In recent years, technology has played a prominent role in protecting the public - particularly when it comes to new technology implementation within law enforcement agencies. To better meet their data processing needs, many police departments are looking to the edge. With edge IT deployments, these agencies can bring computing closer to the end user, speeding access to data and ultimately improving their ability to keep the public safe.

Leadership and Conflict Resolution in the PSAP

Joy to the world, peace on earth etc etc. Yet what about the ongoing Criticizing, Condemning, Complaining? Natural human behavior - to a point. But when the 3 Cs become epidemic in your Comm Center it's time to take some leadership action.

Let's Do An Exercise! Ok How Do We Include Communications?

Public safety agencies are very efficient with routinely conducting exercises that test various response components. However, compressed response timelines or the ability to talk face-to-face make it difficult or impossible to fully utilize the types of radio communication that would be experienced in a real world response. In Georgia we recognized the need to think outside the box and identified the need to evaluate the communications component the same way we evaluate the exercises...

License Plate Recognition Technology: A New Way to Fight Crime

One tool law enforcement agencies are turning to in order to reduce gang violence and its relation to homicide and drug trafficking is license plate recognition (LPR), which uses fixed and mobile cameras to take photos of license plates, capturing date, time and GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken. Each plate image captured, along with the data for that image (date, time, location) is stored in a database that authorized law enforcement personnel can search.

Local Florida Law Enforcement Demos Life-saving Technology for Schools

To ensure that communities are fully prepared in the event of an emergency or disaster, many school districts and their local police departments are conducting school safety exercises to test equipment and procedures. Earlier this month, the Orlando law enforcement community teamed up with the University of Central Florida (UCF), Valencia College, and Mutualink, a multimedia interoperable communications company, for a live demonstration of school safety technology.

Location Logistics: Where Are You and How Did You Get There?

Before you begin reading this story, ask yourself these simple questions and see if you can answer them quickly, with minimum hesitation. From where you are right now, which way is North, South, East, West?... In my opinion, all schoolchildren should be taught geographical directions at an early age, much like language skills are taught at early ages. Geographical awareness can be a lifesaver!

LTE and LMR Combine To Create Next Generation Public Safety Communications

Major shifts over the past decades have taken public safety agencies and departments from conventional to trunked, and then from analog to digital. In each of these transitions, public safety agencies and departments eventually replaced one technology with the other. New "Next Generation" system models will likely be a hybrid system that incorporates the best that LTE, LMR and broadband technology together have to offer in one shared network.

Making The Campus Safer with a Unified Security Approach

As the president of Blackboard Transact, I often speak with safety officials on campuses about how they can improve their approaches to reduce campus safety risks and institution liability, a high priority for universities in light of high-profile security issues on college campuses in recent years. While a unified approach takes commitment, time and resources, the end result could help save lives.

Managing a Last Call Broadcast: Traditions & Guidelines for Dispatch Centers

What follows here are guidelines and examples we've culled from a number of agencies which we hope may help you develop a pre-plan for composing a suitable Last Call broadcast for your department or dispatch center, in the hopes that you will never have to use it. As we've found with most critical event SOPs, it’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. Thus, having a plan for when and how to make a Last Call broadcast with guidelines as to verbiage, will serve...

Managing the Cone of Uncertainty

...I became aware of what the job description should be for everyone in public safety communications: "We manage the cone of uncertainty!" Because, folks, that's what we do. Every call taker and telecommunicator never knows what the next call will be. More than likely it will be something relatively minor. And then again, it can be the lead story on the six o,clock news or CNN. Either way, they must be ready.

Managing Volunteers in Disaster Response: Kumamoto Earthquake in Japan - Assessing the Value of A Volunteers' Coordination Platform

In previous large scale natural disasters in Japan, willing volunteers tended to come into the devastated areas without thinking of how their actions could cause another hindrance to well-managed immediate relief operations. During the recent Kumamoto earthquakes of April 16, the use of a Volunteer Coordination Center was tested, where individuals and grouped volunteers can report to register and express their willingness of serving in various sectors, based on their skills and credentials...

Map Reading: Where Were Google Maps Back Then?

Maps Help Coordinate Resources During the Nation's Wildfire Crisis

Marion County, Mississippi Turns to InterAct Public Safety Systems for State-of-the-Art Public Safety Response

InterAct's Computer Aided Dispatch, Geographic Information System and Law Records Management Solution Improve Officer, Firefighter, and Public Safety

Measuring Police Officer Effectiveness Concerning Building Trusting Relationships with the Community

Microwave Management

Let me begin this month's column by apologizing to those of you who began reading this under the false assumption that it was a primer on managing extremely high-frequency radios. It is not.

Middletown Township Comm Van Supports EMS Response

As the EMS community in Monmouth County (NJ) prepared to receive the casualties evacuating from New York City in the wake of the World Trade Center attack, the Field Comm unit from Middletown was requested to support the operation. As Field Comm Captain, I would deploy the unit, a 35-foot truck, built by Lynch Diversified Vehicles and purchased several years ago as a joint effort of the police and fire departments, and the city Office of Emergency Management. I

Minor Airport Mishap A Serious Response for Atlanta FD

It may not have been a major disaster - fortunately - but any aircraft response is taken seriously. In the case of a recent Boeing 737 that ran off a taxiway in Atlanta (GA), while no fire or injuries ensued, a large response of airport and city fire units maintained a safety standby and incident command post for more than five hours to ensure a safe mitigation to the incident and removal of the damaged aircraft.

Miracle on the Hudson - The Rescue of Flight 1549: The View from Dispatch

Yesterday marks the third anniversary of the emergency landing of US Airways Flight 1549 into the Hudson River that saved the lives of all 155 people on board the aircraft. The firefighters and officers who worked the night tour of January 14th and the day tour of January 15, 2009 were in for a busy 24 hours. The men and women of the Manhattan Communication Office were in for a busy day tour. However, they didn't realize how busy!

Mobile Command Post Technologies - What can be done to improve field communications in your agency?

Recognizing budgetary limitations, grant funding was sought for necessary upgrades to the department's mobile communications fleet. The Federal Department of Justice agreed to allow the Sheriff’s Office to use a portion of existing Justice Assistance Grant funding to support the technological updates recommended by the Mobile Command team. Over the next ten months, the Mobile Communications Unit received a massive technology "face-lift" that included some very notable enhancements that...

Mobile Communications, Coordination, and Incident Command Training for Indonesian Emergency Responders

The Community Emergency Management Institute Japan (CEMIJ) is based in Japan, with close ties to the California Fire Chiefs Association, Communications Section and 9-1-1 Magazine... The organization has been working with the Indonesian government, local CERT ("TAGANA" in local Bahasa language), and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Jakarta to enhance the command and communication capabilities of first-responder and search & rescue resources in that country and promote advanced...

Mobile Data Information Management

In a crisis, coordinated communication is critical to establishing command and control, maintaining situational awareness and coordinating response efforts across agencies and jurisdictions. When an emergency of any kind strikes, first responders must have immediate access to real-time, situational information.

Mobile Network Operators Can Offer Strong Services For Public Safety Networks with the Help of OMA Standards

Public safety communication is a significant and vital need all over the world. Communication services for First Responders such as police, fire and emergency services personnel have strict requirements in terms of performance, robustness and reliability. Life is at risk if these communication services fail for any reason... Resilience ensures networks continue providing a service even through outages that could affect the service, for example severe weather can illustrate how networks can...

Mobile Personal Emergency Response Devices: New Technologies Enable Care Specialists to Help Dispatchers and First Responders Deliver Faster, Better Care

Personal emergency response system (PERS) technologies have evolved dramatically from the late 1980s homebound systems that relied on landline phones and only worked in and around the home. Now, leading edge mobile PERS devices enable users to have two-way voice contact with emergency care specialists 24/7 at home and away from home by utilizing cellular coverage. Some mobile PERS devices also leverage GPS for location, while others utilize 9-1-1 U-TDOA technologies.

Mobile Phone Notification Technology Relative to Campus Security & Safety

The basic desire to leverage the technology of the mobile phone for emergency alert systems, in its simplest form seems blatantly obvious, until, upon further exploration, a plethora of complexities arise.

More Than a Call Taker: The Public Safety Dispatcher and Stress

In the law enforcement community, there are many situations police officers face that can heighten stress levels such as high-risk calls, working long shifts, bureaucratic pressure, department mismanagement, and personal life drama. Another important issue that goes unnoticed is the intense level of stress that public safety dispatchers face on a daily basis.

Mtn View SWAT & Crisis Negotiations teams arrest barricaded subject

Shortly before 3:30 AM on Sunday, Nov 25, 2012 Mountain View (CA) police responded to an apartment complex on the 800 block of Alice Ave. on a report of a suicidal male who was armed with a shotgun and had barricaded himself inside his apartment after battering his girlfriend.

Musings on Mission-Critical Voice and the Project 25 ISSI

One of the primary obstacles to inter-connecting LMR systems is the lack of a fully-capable interface on each system. While the Project 25 Inter RF Subsystem Interface (ISSI) standard has been around for years, how many actual deployments has it seen, especially between disparate agencies? The biggest barrier to ubiquitous ISSI deployment seems to be the cost...

My Server Crashed! Someone Call 9-1-1!

Technologies, applications, and the systems they run on are becoming more complex and more highly integrated, with more sophisticated features than ever before. It's putting a strain on PSAP's ability to keep up and manage these systems. When evaluating new Computer Aided Dispatch systems and related applications, the natural tendency is to focus on the software, the user experience it affords call takers and dispatchers, and how efficient and productive it enables them to be.

N.J. appeals court rules 911 operators can be sued for mistakes

The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported that a New Jersey state appeals court has ruled that 9-1-1 operators and dispatchers are not immune from being sued for failing to perform their duties.

Narrowbanding: Why Government and Business Leaders are Talking about Two-Way Radios

The narrowbanding mandate from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has businesses and government entities working to retool their two-way radio systems in the face of stiff penalties and a Jan. 1, 2013, deadline... The FCC set forth its narrowbanding initiative in 1992 with the ultimate objective of increasing capacity and efficiency for the industrial/business and public safety radio pools in the private land mobile radio services category


Gettysburg National Military Park, Park Watch Volunteers were honored at a dinner held during the 147th battle commemorative activities on July 3, 2010. The dinner was hosted by Terrie and Jeff Ferguson and their Feed Bag Catering Company. The dinner was attended by park rangers and officials.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week: What Kind of Holiday is This, Anyway?

...April also contains the annual ritual known as National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (NPSTW). But, more than two decades after this nativity, the weeks leading up to NPSTW still fill the online forums with last minute requests for help in suggesting and planning activities, which leads me to ask this question: "What kind of holiday is this anyway?"

National Public Safety Telecommunicators' Week Turns Twenty-One!

Here we are in 2012, celebrating what is the official twenty-first birthday of National Public Safety Telecommunicators' Week. Although it was conceived in California a decade before and has been known by a number of aliases, about the closest thing we have to a birth certificate is a 1991 Congressional Proclamation - so we'll go with that. As can be imagined, after ten years of labor, this baby was welcomed with open arms by most.

National Public Safety Telecommunicators' Week: A Time to Refocus

For this year's commentary on the what, the who, and why of National Public Safety Telecommunicators' Week let me share a post from Amy Johnson, a former dispatcher discussing the week that her once co-workers recently had in Sevier County, Tennessee, and the kind of day she and her co-workers had recently. THIS is the what, the who, and the why.

National Urban Search and Rescue Task Force begins mission in NYC

Members of the National Urban Search and Rescue Task Force receive a briefing before flying from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., to Staten Island, N.Y., to conduct house-to-house searches, Nov 3, 2012. The Task Force includes state search and rescue task forces from Maryland, Virginia, and Texas.

NC Sheriffs Comm Center & Public Safety Company Pioneering E-9-1-1 Multimedia Communications

The Union County, North Carolina, Sheriff's Office and Emergency Communications Center have teamed up to deploy a first-of-its kind next generation technology. NexGen Global Technologies provides the solution that enables these public safety agencies to more effectively manage critical incidents by capturing and transmitting multi-media intelligence exchanged between citizens and first responders.

New Dispatchers in Southern California Graduate Dispatch Academy

Last month, several newly hired police dispatchers in Southern California graduated from a dispatch academy, a rigorous 3-week training course designed to prepare new dispatchers for the job ahead of them. The Golden West College Criminal Justice Training Center in Huntington Beach, CA, hosted the academy which was taught by several seasoned instructors.

New Forms of Communication Technology for Law Enforcement in 2014

Law enforcement and military services have remained a big challenge even in the technology rich 21st century. Creating a safe environment for civilians and dissolving crime usually involves taking risks and maintaining effective communication methods. Nonetheless, meaningful progress has been made on that front. Here are some of the standout technologies for law enforcement in 2014.

New Mobile Technology Extends the Reach of Language Services for Public Safety

Enter ELSA (Enabling Language Services Anywhere). Created specifically to support hands-free access to OPI services, ELSA is a compact, body-worn device not much larger than a mobile phone that offers immediate access to OPI providers with the push of a single button.

Next Generation 9-1-1 and Visualization of Incident Reporting

When moving to Next Generation 9-1-1, It is critical for emergency centers to very carefully consider the importance of a communications recording and incident reconstruction solution that can handle all of these different types of media.

Next Generation Quality Assurance - Getting Ready for the Future

Up until now, QA focused on telephony calls as this has been the primary form of 9-1-1 communication between PSAPs and the public. All this though will soon change with NG9-1-1. PSAPs will also be required to handle text, video, images, and potentially other forms and types of data originating from various security sensors.

Next-Generation 9-1-1 Is Finally Poised to Take Off

More than a decade ago, the National Emergency Number Association (NENA) recognized the need for changes to the nation's 911 systems. The old systems had their jobs for decades, but in a world of wireless calling and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP), the country needed more accommodating technology. Enter the concept of next-generation 911 (NG911), a system that would run on a secure Internet protocol-based network and allow texting, data transfer and more.

NG9-1-1: The Changing Face of Emergency Calling

What public safety leaders need to know about how to make the move to next-generation 9-1-1 services, and how best to take advantage of the benefits these services provide... Through the Next Generation 9-1-1 initiative (NG9-1-1) initiative,PSAPS are looking to incorporate new technical capabilities. Yet being able to tie Emergency Services IP Networks (ESInets) to legacy networks, and ensuring that PSAPs can handle video, streaming, data, texting and voice, plus obtain the location of a...

Nixing the Negativity in the PSAP

"Why does the dispatcher need help getting through this officer down incident, he wasn't even on the scene?" These were the words a high ranking official asked me, the 9-1-1 Director in charge of a center where an officer was shot, when my dispatcher was having extreme anxiety over the incident. I wish I knew then what I know now...

No Mulligans Here: 9-1-1, the Media, and Public Judgment

9-1-1 calls provide a significant amount of provocative audio in the world of twenty-four hour news. Many times these calls are handled properly; sometimes they are not. Occasionally, the call itself becomes almost as compelling as the original story. Perhaps the most recent example of this involves Amanda Berry; the kidnap victim recently recovered in Cleveland. While the aftermath of the incident may prove to be a boon to the Good Samaritan and McDonalds, it has been less kind to the...

North Hollywood Shoot Out: Maintaining Control

What follows is a portion of the radio traffic from both LAPD's North Hollywood Frequency and Van Nuys Frequency during the Bank of America incident. Tonja Bellard is the North Hollywood dispatcher, while Guadalupe De La Cruz handled Van Nuys, assisted by Robyn Frazier. Unit 9L89 is Officer Martin Whitfield, one of the most seriously wounded officers in this incident.

Not All "Mobile" PCs are Mobile - and Not All Rugged Tablets are the Same

Real-world emergency response, real-time data needs creating shift in mobility strategies - learn how to build a cohesive end-to-end mobile solution with these simple steps - without having to abandon all of your current hardware or software in the process

Notes from Navigator - 9-1-1 Lessons from Las Vegas

Maybe you look at Navigator as the place to learn a lot about emergency communication, the ability to pick up free advice from fellow professionals, and - at the conference held this past April in Las Vegas - the chance to walk away a millionaire. The National Academies of Emergency Dispatch (NAED) sponsored Navigator is all that and more. The six days traditionally divided between workshops and classroom sessions also leaves attendees with a lot to chew on for discussion when the next...

Notification Systems and School Safety

As campuses nationwide openup their classrooms for the new school year, MIR3, Inc., an innovator of real-time Intelligent Notification and response technology, is urging school administrators to review their current campus alerting plans to keep students and staff safe and operations running smoothly in case of disaster.

Now That the Nationwide EAS Test Has Been Completed, What About Mobile Device Alerts?

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently completed a nationwide test of the Emergency Alert System (EAS) targeted for the radio, television, cable and satellite broadcast communities... The audience for the nationwide EAS test was composed of viewers and listeners of radio and TV programming. However, with today's increasingly mobile society, many users have come to rely on their mobile device as a primary means of communication during an emergency event. So, what about...

Number Portability: What if 9-1-1 Can’t Find You?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has for years consistently supported critical public safety and national security capabilities that help keep Americans safe - but that could soon change. A proposal before the agency could degrade crucial public safety and national security functions, including 9-1-1's ability to locate distressed callers, a crucial system for law enforcement to track suspected terrorists and other criminals, and back-up capabilities for phone service after a...

NYC 9-1-1: The Eye Of The Storm

I arrived at the center approximately five minutes after the first plane had struck and at that point there was little credible information regarding the size of the plane or damage estimates from the scene. No matter, our personnel had already sprung into action putting our major incident plan into effect. Administrative and training personnel not normally involved in call taking operations were already on the floor...

On Target and on Time? Recent Legal Cases in Emergency Dispatch

Dispatchers may be considered the forgotten emergency service. In some ways they have the most challenging job of all: they deal with callers who are distressed, responders who are under pressure, and a public who has little regard for their skills. A trio of recent legal decisions have added to the factors they must consider.

On The Job: Rural Oregon Bus Crash MCI

Even in rural Northeast Oregon we are not immune to multiple casualty incidents (MCI). When something major occurs, we have to pool our resources together with our neighbors and get the job done. On the morning of December 30, 2012, at 10:07hrs, our 9-1-1 dispatch center erupted with a flurry of activity that wont soon be forgotten. A bus lost control and ended up going down a 200 foot embankment on Interstate 84. The slope was covered with ice and snow making it hard to extricate the...

One Year Later in Pennsylvania

What has changed since that ill-fated day around the 9-1-1 Center? The 9-1-1 Center has relocated; it is no longer in the basement of the County Courthouse. It moved across the street to a newly renovated, modern, three story 10,000 square foot facility, that was already county property.

One Year Later: Moving Past September 11th

As we all have read or witnessed through news accounts since September 11th, 2001, our world has changed. Those of us in Emergency Management have seen both positive responses in understanding, establishing and mitigating threat, or risk, to our citizens, but we have also seen what I would consider to be the "chicken little" mentality where an uneasy society sees a terrorist around every corner and in every shadow

Operation Serenade: Simi Valley PD and President Reagan's Funeral

As a dispatcher with the Simi Valley (CA) Police Department since 1977, promoted to the position of Communications Manager in 1990, I have been involved with many citywide incidents from earthquakes, to fires, to floods, to the opening of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library with five living Presidents attending. But nothing has come close to being involved in managing public safety during the internment of Ronald Wilson Reagan, 40th President of the United States. This event was...

Orange and Anaheim Police Dispatchers Teach Kids About 9-1-1

According to the California Public-Safety Communications Office, statistics show there were over 250 million calls made to 9-1-1 throughout the United States in 2011. They also estimate that in some cities nearly 70% of 9-1-1 calls were non-emergencies and an overwhelming majority of those false calls were made by children between the ages of 4-11. In order to reduce these alarming statistics, Orange Police and Anaheim Police have taken a more proactive approach to public education.

Organizational Security: Insider Threat is Not Just a Cybersecurity Problem

The weeks-long manhunt last June for convicted murderers David Sweat and Richard Matt turned into an investigation of employees at the high-security prison. Could the correctional facility have known in advance that two or more of its employees posed “insider threats” – just as certain IT employees can pose threats in cybersecurity breaches? This guest column discusses how public safety and other organizations can use predictive analytics to “insider threats.”

Our Week

With National Public Safety Telecommunications Week being celebrated each April, it's worth taking a look at the job we've been doing.

Overcoming Stress: A guide for 9-1-1 dispatchers

Some dispatchers have the amazing ability to go through day after day of hearing the cries for help from their fellow citizens without becoming overwhelmed or completely stressed to their limits. These dispatchers are not superhuman nor are they devoid of feelings. What sets them apart from their more stressed counterparts is the fact that they have been able to establish a positive balance between their work and their lives.

Panic Button: Using Technology to Improve Response to Active Shooters and other Crises

Over the years, panic buttons have evolved with technology. Early versions behaved much like fire alarms – users pressed a button affixed to a wall, and an alarm sounded either in an administrator’s office, a third-party monitoring center, or in the PSAP. The latest wave of panic button technologies take advantage of core capabilities of today’s ubiquitous smart phones, such as location-based services, texting, multimedia and voice service. Much more than just an app on a smartphone,...

Password Please: The Place of Social Media in Hiring Decisions

Recently the Internet has been all a-twitter about numerous reports of employers requesting social media passwords from prospective and current employees... While on the surface this practice seems a shocking violation of personal space and freedoms, there are others who would argue that valuable information concerning hiring decisions can be gained in this manner... Let's take a closer look at the issue; especially as it applies to public safety communications.

Patrol Bikes of the Future: Increasing Police Effectiveness with eBikes

Police officers on bicycles are nothing new; officers adopted bicycle patrols as part of their standard functions as early as the 19th century, and theres been a revival in the practice since the late 1980s - for good reason. Theres a way to get all the positives of a police bicycle program and eliminate the negatives, however - with an eBike, or electric bicycle, which uses a pedal-activated electric motor and battery that gives riders an extra tailwind to pedal faster uphill and over...

PD to PI? Not the same!

I was a cop…. I was in the military… I can be a PI right? Negative, headquarters; that is not always the case. Career or Concern - what public safety personnel need to know about the difference.

Pedal to the Metal for Public Safety: Statewide Emergency Networks Can Work Together, Without Washington and FirstNet

The Spectrum Act was a monumental decision, and our legislators should be applauded for dedicating the D-Block to public safety. When it comes to building these networks, however, the country already knows it has work to do. And it's doing it. While the Beltway gets up to speed on technical specifications and appointing the FirstNet board, traditional public safety and land-mobile radio networks (LMR) across the country are already proving that states can adapt to new interoperability...

Peer Mediation Teams As a Way to Resolve Conflict in the PSAP

What we want to explore here is how unresolved conflict in a Comm Center affects the trainee and their ability to survive and thrive. The simple definition of Comm Center conflict is when people don't get their needs met or heard. Lack of agency conflict management can result in people holding resentment, dissatisfaction, high turnover and lost opportunities for needed change.

Pennsylvania State Police Respond To Flight 93 Crash

When hijacked United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville, Somerset County on September 11, 2001 the Police Communications Officers and State Police Officers from Troop A were handling the incoming telephone calls, along with the Somerset 9-1-1 Center.

Personal Alerts: What Should Mobile Subscribers Expect Now that CMAS Implementation is Moving Forward?

CMAS is a new public safety system that allows people who own an enabled mobile device to receive geographically targeted, text-like messages alerting them of imminent threats to safety in their area. This alerting follows you wherever you go and does not require previous knowledge of zip codes or advance registration.

Perspective: Drugs, Violence and Enforcement

The murder of 52 women in Mexico is enough even for my hard bit experience in law enforcement to take - every dispatcher knows the tragedy of drug addicts' conduct on themselves, their families, and society... There is no way to stop opium trafficking so long as there is demand for heroin. The United States is the worlds largest consumer. Yesterday the President of Mexico, visibly upset when 52 women were burned to death by drug traffickers in a bingo parlor, suggested again that the U.S. do...

Perspective: Homeland Corruption

Michael McCaul, the U.S. Representative from Texas and Chairman of the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management, revealed that that since 2004 130 U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents have been arrested on charges that have included drug smuggling, money laundering and smuggling.

Perspective: Rage, Hatred & Human Violence: By Another Road

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, 9-1-1 Magazine columnist and former Assistant DA John C. Fine shares his perspective on the nature of modern violence and the dark road that leads toward these kinds of tragedies.

Perspective: Terrorism And Terrorists

Controlling a population through terror dates from the first human societies. Fear of terrorists has caused our free society, through elected officials, to circumvent civil rights. Lawsuits have been instituted that reveal electronic espionage on innocent U.S. citizens by government intelligence services. Torture of prisoners interned in offshore compounds, shrouded in secrecy, has been revealed by investigations and Congressional probes. The good have become bad and the bad have won a major...

Photo Report: 2011 California Mobile Command Center Rally/Disaster Management Initiative

The California Emergency Management Agency, the California Fire Chiefs Association Communications Section, and the Carnegie Mellon University Silicon Valley Disaster Management Initiative held the 3rd Annual Mobile Communications/Command Center rally on May 22 and 23rd, 2011. This year's event combined the Rally with CMU's Disaster Management Initiative for a greater opportunity for associated workshops and exercises. The event was held at the CMU Silicon Valley campus located within the...

Photo Story: 7th Annual Mobile Comm Vehicle Rally held in Virginia

The 7th Annual Command, Control, and Communications Vehicle Rally took place in Chantilly, Virginia, on June 17th at the Fairfax County Police Driver Training Track. More than fifty mobile command centers of all sizes from federal, state and local police and fire agencies displayed at the Rally, some brought in from Maryland, Pennsylvania and Delaware...

Photo Story: A Father and His Two Sons

Duty calls and sometimes we follow in one of our parents footsteps, as these two sons did in the law enforcement field. As a gift before Dale's retirement of 24 years in law enforcement; photographers Sarah Trybula and John Prusak were asked to capture the bond of a father and two sons with a stunning image of the three of them.

Photo Story: Coast Guard assists disabled fishing vessel

Coast Guard crews assisted a disabled fishing vessel and safely delivered it to Gloucester, Mass., at approximately 12:30 p.m. Friday, January 13th, 2012. The four-person crew of the 75-foot stern trawler Bulldog used their radio to contact watchstanders at the Coast Guard Sector Northern New England to report the vessel's engine shaft had broken and they needed assistance Thursday night.

Photos - L.A. County Fire - Vehicle Crash Extrication

A three-car accident on the 4400 block of Rosecrans Ave in Hawthorne, CA resulted in the entrapment of two persons. Los Angeles County FD responded and extricated both patients, which were then transported to the hospital.

PhotoStory: Gloucester City, NJ Vehicle Rescue

On November 11, 2011 Squad 51 from Gloucester City Fire Department along with EMS were dispatched for a M.V.A Rescue at Route 130 and Market St. in Gloucester City, New Jersey... Battalion 504 reported a 2 car crash with an S.U.V overturned with 4 occupants trapped. Additional BLS from Bellmawr and Westville were dispatched.

Play it Again, Sam

A Manager's Guide to Recorder Procurement

Please Don't Put Me on Hold Again: Perspective from a Dispatcher's Spouse

Overly excited, I'm heading home to get dressed for dinner and a movie with the guy I've only seen in passing all week - my husband Chris. His request to take the night off was approved, so this is an opportunity that is few and far between. Not far into the night, the phone rang. It was work...

Police and Fire Sharing Facilities:

If you travel across America you'll find that most cities and towns typically have separate police and fire stations and most of these stations also have their own dispatch centers. Even in some of the smallest towns in New England or the Midwest this still is the case. But with most states in a deep recession, taxpayers are questioning whether having separate facilities makes fiscal sense.

Police Collisions

Imagine you are home alone when you hear a very heated argument from the couple who live next door. You become very concerned when you start to hear items breaking; and then, the wife starts screaming. You make the 9-1-1 call to the police, hoping that within minutes, she will be safe.

Pre-Hospital Care & 700 MHz Broadband for Mission Critical Public Safety Data - From Calling Rampart to Communicating with the Enterprise

Today our staff has many options when it comes to voice communications. We provide them high end portable radios with capabilities in VHF, digital, and even encrypted channels. They often carry a portable radio worth thousands of dollars... yet they still use these devices as glorified walkie-talkies. Rarely are these voice devices used to their full potential.

Preparing for the Disaster: How the City of Spokane Bolstered Emergency Response Readiness

By utilizing the latest version of Infor EnRoute, the Spokane CCC is able to equip all of their dispatch users with the latest GIS functionality. This allows them to make route recommendations to responders, helping EMS and fire units to arrive at the scene of an incident as quickly as possible. Infor EnRoute also provides advanced data drill down capabilities, which facilitates in-depth analysis of dispatch responses.

Procedural Justice & Police Legitimacy Training in Chicago: Reaping the Benefits of The Golden Rule

The goal of the Chicago Police procedural justice and police legitimacy training is for officers to understand the core concepts of procedural justice and legitimacy in order to build better relationships with the communities that they serve and the people whom they work with on the Chicago Police Department.... As of September 2013, the CPD Education and Training Division has trained over 7,700 Chicago Police Department personnel in the procedural justice and police legitimacy program.

Profile: Cheyenne River Sioux Tribal Police

Law Enforcement, emergency response and dispatch within the reservation is the responsibility of tribal police. The force consists of a chief of police, one lieutenant, four sergeants, twelve police officers and five dispatchers. Five highways go through the reservation patrolled by three Indian Highway Safety Officers included in force numbers above.

Profile: Melbourne, Florida, Mobile Unified Command Post

The Melbourne (Florida) Police Department utilizes a 35 Foot Mobile Unified Command Post (UCP). The unit was custom built and donated to the Melbourne Police and Fire Departments by NACS (North American Custom Specialty) vehicles of Melbourne, Florida. This specialized vehicle was put into service in May of 2013.

Protocol Use in Emergency Dispatch: An Evolving Standard of Care

Protocols have become an integral part of modern day, emergency dispatch operations. Protocols reduce variance, ensure a continuity of care, reduce liability, standardize response decisions, and provide a basis for performance measurement and quality improvement efforts. It's no wonder that protocol use has become a rapidly growing standard in a discipline that has, historically, been fraught with inconsistencies in call receipt, processing, interrogation, instruction, and dispatch.

Protocols and Policies: The Necessity of Dispatcher Discretion

In early October, David Givot, a practicing attorney and former paramedic published an op-ed piece entitled "Humans vs. Toys: What Happened to Dispatch Discretion?" While investigation related to the story that prompted this article continues, Mr. Givot's missive probably stirred up more discussion than did the catalyst for the conversation... The article - and subsequent online conversations - can lead us down some interesting paths.

PSAP Leadership: Tough Times, Tough Lessons

The city of San Bernardino (CA) filed for bankruptcy in June of 2012, despite the best efforts of the California Public Employees Retirement System and the mid-management's bargaining unit the bankruptcy was given the green light by the federal judge on 8/26/2013. During the time the city was waiting for the bankruptcy to go through, the leaders within the police department were forced to learn many tough lessons...

PSAP Management: The Dreaded 'C' Word

PSAP Security - It's Not Just Brick and Mortar

As we become globally connected, we run the risk of becoming globally infected. The more our systems touch each other within the PSAP, the greater the potential for cross contamination. The new reality is that we, as an industry, need to pay as much – if not more – attention to cyber security as we do to keeping the front door locked.

Public Safety & Local Business: 6 Emergency Communication Trends to Watch for in 2016

As businesses take stock of the past year and consider what 2016 has in store for them, one thing that is unlikely to change is the risk of emergencies. Whatever the event, there is a constant need for vigilance and effective communication during a crisis, within and between organizations as well as from the private sector to the public safety community. What can change from year to year; however, are trends within the emergency communication industry that can impact how organizations prepare...

Public Safety And The EMP Threat

For years many have talked about the threat of an electromagnetic pulse, whether natural occurring or as a result of a nuclear weapon, but recent event have increased concerns about that threat. EMP is the acronym for electromagnetic pulse, a burst of energy that travels through the air that is produced by a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere or possibly non-nuclear -manmade means that may result in widespread damage to all unshielded semiconductor/electronics, power lines,...

Public Safety Dispatching: A Full Plate

I am writing my last column of 2016 in that magical time between Thanksgiving and Christmas when shoplifting increases ten-fold, people call 9-1-1 because theyre stuck in traffic at the mall, and anyone who takes a sick day at the center had better come back to work missing major body parts...

Public Safety Experts Weigh in on PSAP Trends for 2017

If your head is spinning from all the changes underway in the Public Safety industry, you're not alone. NG9-1-1 and Public Safety LTE are poised to radically transform emergency communications as PSAPs become touchpoints for managing more types and greater volumes of multimedia information. Recently, I sat down with some of the leading Public Safety experts at NICE and asked them to weigh in on these and other key trends theyre seeing. Heres what they had to say

Public Safety Technology - Aging Systems And New Acquisitions: Important Ideas To Consider

As a product lifecycle evolves, the agency will struggle to keep the system operational amid ever increasing annual maintenance costs. An aging system also suffers from "support deterioration" because older systems become more difficult and costly to maintain over time. To extend the lifecycle of a product, even though defects become more frequent and severe as the product ages, vendors will add functional capabilities called "life cycle extenders" ...

Public Safety, 9/11, and Critical Incident Stress

What we once knew as a traumatic event seems to pale in comparison to what thousands learned that day on the streets of New York, on the steps of the Pentagon, in a field in Pennsylvania, and even on the screen of the TV we remained glued to for days, even weeks, after the terrible tragedy that we now refer to as "9/11." Those of us in the trenches, used to responding to critical incidents as part of our job, may feel at a loss for words at this point. All the training in the world could...

Public/Private Partnerships during Emergency Response & Recovery: An interview with AT&T's Tim Knezevich

Through dozens of years of recent disaster and major emergency responses, the response community has learned the value of partnering with non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to manage the response and recovery phases of large emergencies. One such organization is AT&T, which serves as an excellent example of this kind of public/private partnership. In addition to offering rapid emergency response and an effective disaster recovery program, AT&T also recognizes the need to prepare and...

Putting the "AP" in PSAP: The Role of Adjunct Software in the Emergency Experience

In last month’s column, "Tweet This - Google That," I discussed some issues related to dealing with change in electronic communications. This month, I’d like to continue this discussion, with the focus on applications.

Q&A: 9-1-1 Industry Alliance Faces 9-1-1 Overload Challenges & More

With 25 years of professional background in public safety and professional services, 9-1-1 Industry Alliance (9IA) executive director George S. Rice, Jr. is now helping to tackle a major issue impacting public safety, the 9-1-1 overload issue. 9-1-1 Magazine's Randall Larson spoke with Rice on why he is dedicated to public safety and how the alliance is working to ensure that no 9-1-1 call goes unanswered.

Q&A: Cisco Takes Mobile Ready Net to the Next Level

At last week's LandWarNet Conference in Tampa, Florida, Cisco introduced its latest wireless router, the 5915, the latest offering in the company's 5900 Series Embedded Services Router (ESR) product line. The new router is optimized for mobile and embedded networks and expands the capabilities of the Cisco Mobile Ready Net solution architecture with such new components as Dynamic Link Exchange Protocol (DLEP) and the latest Radio Aware Routing (RAR), and is designed to ensure communications...

Q&A: How Hughes' New EchoStar XIX broadband satellite will support public safety, FirstNet, and NG9-1-1

9-1-1 Magazine recently interviewed Tony Bardo, Hughes assistant vice president government solutions, to get the inside scoop on how EchoStar XIX will benefit emergency services and NG9-1-1.

Q-n-A: It's Not What You Say

After reading an article about this, I began thinking about Quality Control (QC). What is quality with a 9-1-1 call and how do we measure said quality beyond words and phrases? Words are important, yes; still the right words don't determine the quality of the work. How words are delivered determines quality....

Quality Assurance: The Behavior Allowed Becomes the Standard

In the modern workplace employees have a desire to know why they are being required to do things and often resent the "old school" just-do-as-I-say approach to management. Policies and procedures need to be explained to and understood by everyone. Often times, if the reasons are clear and the consequences of their actions, and not for their actions are emphasized and understood the resulting compliance will be greater.

Quality Assurance? Are They Learning or Burning?

Although needed and necessary, Quality Assurance (QA) programs can create chaos in your Comm Center if not presented and managed in a way that acknowledges some realities... But you cannot force people to put their defenses down when they are feeling unsafe. You can work to help them feel safe. Here are five thoughts on a positive pro-active approach to QA programs at 9-1-1.

Quality Improvement through Education and Positive Reinforcement

All the quality assurance data in the world is virtually meaningless if it is not followed up with a strong quality improvement initiative. Gathering the information and generating reports are just part of the process.

Quality Is Job 9-1-1

The state of quality control within our industry truly requires a case-by-case study. Some states have standards; others do not. Some agencies train; others do not. You get the point. Realistically then, quality must begin at home. But what do we mean by quality? What do we measure and how often do we measure it? And, more importantly, what do we do with the results?

Quality Power Banks For First Responders: What to Look For

This time of year, first responders are working together around the country to make sure crews are ready to respond to severe weather at a moments notice. When that happens, they need to have the most durable products to stay connected, including a quality power bank that will keep those devices charged.

Random Thoughts: How PSAP Managers Must Make Sense of it All

As I sit watching the summer slowly slither away, I am faced with what many would call a high-class problem; idea overload. While the bane of many columnists is the dreaded "writer's block," where no coherent thoughts can come, I find myself mired in a completely opposite situation. In fact, over the past few weeks I have written - and personally rejected - a number of columns for publication...

Rapid Reporting

Emergency Notification Systems: Public Safety's Regional Intercom

Reactive and Proactive

How Communication Helped Safeguard Southern California Residents during the Wildfires

Realities of Next Generation 9-1-1

Clearly, a close and complementary partnership between technology, operations, and management both from within the 9-1-1 Center administrations, nationwide, and from without, by the federal, legislative, and vendor partners who mandate, drive funding to, design, and implement the changes needed to reach the next level of 9-1-1 services so urgently needed...

Recognition: The Other 51

Another National Telecommunicators' Week has come and gone. Some agencies went all out, while others kept it low-key. Some didn't celebrate at all, which is kind of sad since this is the one week a year we set aside to formally recognize our staffs. But sadder than the lack of celebration during these seven days in April is what occurs during the other 51 weeks of every year.

Recognizing Carbon Monoxide Emergencies - Dispatch Concerns & Responder Detection

Carbon monoxide poisoning is responsible for some 435 deaths per year - and it is not uncommon for first responders to be victims of carbon monoxide. For dispatchers, there’s an important lesson to be learned. Arvada (CO) responders have portable carbon monoxide (CO) monitors hooked onto their carry-along kit bags, which sound an alarm alerting crew members to high levels of CO before they enter the hazardous environment.

Recording Solutions: The Collaboration of Small Agencies Can Yield Big Results

Many forward-thinking municipalities have started working together, pooling their budgets to implement the infrastructure or technology that they could not otherwise afford. Through collaboration, agencies in Minnesota - as well as Texas, California and Colorado - have profited by leveraging one system for multiple agencies through cost-sharing technology acquisitions.

Redefining the Human Machine Interface

Simultaneous auditory stimuli (e.g., radio and telephone transmissions) is a common occurrence within in the 9-1-1 communication center. Competition for the telecommunicator's attention and comprehension with receipt of two simultaneous verbal transmissions may result in critical information being missed or lost when switching between tasks. To better manage competing auditory activity, the telecommunicator needs a process to receive, analyze, and organize this activity in such a way that...

Reducing Stress for 9-1-1 Dispatchers: What You Should Know

Stress is a very sensitive and very real subject for many 9-1-1 dispatchers. Coping with stress can happen on many different levels and we all deal with it a different way. When stress affects our personal health learning how to cope with it in a productive way can make all the difference.

Reflections from Ground Zero

Since I returned from New York City as a Communications Specialist with California Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 3, I have been asked many times to explain exactly what the scene at the World Trade Center looked like. I would quickly agree with others that the scenes on the nightly television news reports were only a mere fraction of what we actually witnessed during our two-week deployment.

Remember the MEME!

Its our jobs collectively to question. We cant blindly accept that the picture provided us is accurate, or that the two lines of text received are even close to being correct. These will take on even greater implications in the Next Gen 9-1-1 world of tomorrow. But right now they simply apply to getting all the information needed to come to the truth.

Remembering Ray Downey, FDNY 9/19/37 - 9/11/01

All those who died that day will forever be heroes, but Ray Downey's life prior to that day had already made him a hero to so many who had know him. At 63, he was the Deputy Chief in charge of Special Operations Command (SOC) for the largest urban Fire Department in the world. His contributions to the Rescue community had made him a legend, and he was respected as a leading authority on Structural Collapse Rescue all over the Country.

Remembering the Dispatcher Lost on 9/11

Jersey City Fire Department dispatcher/EMT/canteen volunteer Joseph Lovero responded from off-duty to support JCFD's crews that were assigned to support operations at the World Trade Center... Joseph joined his department’s firefighters in supporting FDNY personnel when the towers fell, and he lost his life along with the 343 FDNY firefighters killed during the collapse.

Remote Print Manager Elite Helps Fire Department Dispatch, Responders, and Citizens

Reorienting the Dispatcher's Perspective

The Grapevine Police Department is like one big family. We have our good days and bad days. There are people we like and those we would prefer not to hang out with. There is sibling rivalry and an overwhelming ability to step up to the plate and help out in times of struggle and stress.

Repeater Interoperability Controller

Midian's RIC-8 is a tone remote adaptor and encoder that allows up to eight RIC-8 equipped repeaters connected by leased line or microwave to interoperate

Rescues made in Camden NJ Dwelling Fire

On March 8th, 2011 at 12:38 A.M. Camden City (NJ) companies were dispatched for a dwelling with reports of people trapped. EMS arrived and reported the house was fully involved with 3 trapped occupants on the rear roof. Crews worked to remove the occupants who were transported to a near by hospital. The Battalion struck the all hands on arrival with heavy fire conditions.

Rescuetainment: Real Life TV: Friend or Foe?

A thirteen-year old girl is swept down a flood control channel in Los Angeles as swiftwater rescuers struggle to pluck her out of the torrent. A woman and her son are in a violent automobile accident and rescuers make a heroic effort to save them. The parents of a young man receive a surprise telephone call from police officers informing them that their son may be the victim of a homicide. A well-known Hollywood actor discovers his beautiful wife lying at the bottom of their swimming pool....

Response & Recognition: A look behind the scenes at San Bernardino PD Dispatch During the Terrorist Shooting – and the Dispatcher Invited to the State of the Union Address

9-1-1 Magazine interviews the dispatch supervisor who directed the emergency response during the Dec. 2nd San Bernardino terror attack about the incident and about being invited to be a invited to be a guest of Congresswoman Norma J. Torres and attend President Obama’s State of the Union Address.

Rockland County, NY: Public Safety Initiatives for A Secure Future

Public safety has not always kept pace with dramatic changes in technology. Young people with advanced computer skills using inexpensive cell phones and video games seem miles ahead of the average police officer whose analog radios with limited range and interoperability, make it difficult, and at times impossible, to communicate with other agencies let along their own command. This in an era when clandestine federal operations, funded with billions of dollars of taxpayer money, have the most...

San Bernardino County: Grand Prix/Old Fires - Deja Vu...."We Have Been Here Before"

October 21, 2003 was hot and clear with a great view of our local mountains. In Rialto California, at the San Bernardino County Fire Department dispatch center, interviews were being conducted to select the next "much needed" Emergency Service Dispatcher. At around 1530 hours, the last interview was completed when one of our on duty dispatchers took time out to point to the small column of smoke clearly visible to the northwest of our facility...

San Jose Firefighters Conduct Swiftwater Rescue

On Thursday, March 24, 2011 units of the San Jose Fire Department responded to a stretch of the rain swollen Guadalupe River near the San Jose International Airport for a report of a subject trapped in the fast moving water. Firefighters with San Jose's Urban Search and Rescue Task Force worked quickly to deploy two inflatable rescue boats needed to reach the victim.

San Ramon Valley Comm Support 131

The San Ramon Valley Fire District (SRVFPD) in Northern Californias Bay Area recently put into service a Type 1 Communications Support Unit, CS131. The design was the result of extensive review of other Mobile Command Post type vehicles from throughout the United States and, to some degree, elsewhere. Attempts were made to avoid the pitfalls of some of these vehicles, while capitalizing upon their successes.

Sand Storm Inundates Coastal Homes in Oregon

A fierce windstorm, with winds of 50 MPH, blew beach sand all over more than a dozen homes built on a sand spit on the coastal town of Waldport, Oregon last January 17th. The homes are frequently visited by wind storms that drive the sand over and around the homes, but nothing of this level had ever occurred before.

Satellite Beach Florida: Community Health Program improves communication and lowers costs

Remote health monitoring of citizens aged 55 and over in Satellite Beach, Florida, is the brainchild of Fire Chief Don Hughes, who launched a community health program in 2009 and has been on the cutting edge in using paramedics beyond 9-1-1 calls to help keep the community healthy.

SAW: Valuable Tool To Survive Hurricanes And Disasters

It's been nearly three months since Hurricane Irene followed by a second violent storm tore through the eastern states. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) declared many zones disaster areas. Millions of homeowners were without electricity when trees and branches fell onto power lines. Trees damaged homes and vehicles as well. Clean up continues. There is nothing worse than feeling helpless without emergency equipment when disaster strikes.

Seeing the Scene

Video Systems in Public Safety Call Taking and Response

September 11th 2011: Fifteen Years of Analysis & Examination

In honor of the fifteenth anniversary of September 11th, 2001, 9-1-1 Magazine presents a number of new features and also archival stories from our original coverage in 2001 and subsequent years.

September 11th 2016: Fifteen Years of Reflection & Remembrance

In recognition of the 15th anniversary of that awful Tuesday in America, I'm sharing below my immediate post-9/11 reactions as a remembrance and as a reminder that the excellence of the responders and telecommunicators at the heart of 9/11 should be the goal of all 9-1-1 emergency dispatchers all the time. The quality of our work is punctuated by the fact that if we do less than the best 100% of the time, someone's life will be at stake. Few other office jobs outside of the military come with...

September 11th: On The Job, In The Field, In The Chair, Behind the Radio

As we remember the 11th Anniversary of 9/11: a look back at our coverage of the events, responses, communications concerns, lessons learned, and struggles faced by America's emergency response and communications community, archived on our web site last year:

She Fell - A Lesson from a Flock of Geese

Here in the Northwest we often are privileged to hear the familiar honking of Canadian geese as they fly low in their well-known "V" formation to some unknown destination. We know that flying in this formation allows the flock to fly further together than they could alone - thus they are often used to represent how much more efficient and effective we are when we cooperate. Teamwork in a 9-1-1 Center shares that kind of dynamic, and its absence can be as keenly felt...

Sidebar: Alabama Next Generation (ANGEN)

Sidebar: Glacial 9-1-1: Dispatching From Antarctica

SkyMail for the Public Safety Community

Most people would agree that communications within a Police Department is critical to the daily and safe operation of any community. An unfortunate trend has caught on, though, perhaps in response to tight municipal budgets and officer layoffs... Recognizing that a more effective and safe solution would significantly increase the speed and accuracy of communications from the field, PDV took the lead by creating an application called SkyMail, which allows police officers to quickly and...

Smaller Electronic Devices Create Growing ESD Problems for 9-1-1 Call Centers and Other Mission-Critical Environments

ESD (electrostatic discharge) has long been known as an 'invisible and silent threat,' but it is now generating a bit of a stir at data centers, emergency call centers, and other mission-critical environments. The reason for this heightened attention is a dramatic new study from NanoMarkets, which shows that smaller electronic components are creating much greater risks for electronic hardware manufacturers and many end users.

Smarter Analytics, Smarter Emergency Services

Today's public safety agencies are being pushed to run like a business--all while under increasing pressure to take on more responsibility with constrained resources and budgets. Efficiency and speed are key operations objectives in today's public safety answering points (PSAPs).

Smartphone Communications for Public Safety

Over the years, Land Mobile Radios (LMR) and Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) Systems have been designed and adapted to meet the unique needs of public safety users. While these systems will remain as critical tools for public safety personnel, it is important that agencies select the applications that deploy to seamlessly integrate with existing LMR and CAD systems. Islands of information created by separate or poorly integrated tools can create a lack of coordination, inefficiency and actually...

So, How Are You Doing? Measuring Performance One Call at a Time

Quality Assurance. Quality Control. Quality Management. It is known by many names, but the purpose remains the same: the establishment of a formalized process or processes by which performance can be reviewed, measured, and ultimately improved. Whether this program is created reactively as the result of an incident, or proactively in a desire to meet standards and provide better service is immaterial. Of greatest importance is that the system works.

So, You Wanna Be a Dispatcher?

During my career, I have participated in and overseen hundreds of hirings and promotions, both for my agency and others. While its impossible to include every piece of advice in a single article, here are my top ten recommendations for those who are seriously seeking employment.

Social Media in a 9-1-1 World

Looking beyond the processing of emergency requests, social media can easily be implemented and utilized for various functions to support a PSAP... Most agencies have some component of community policing,fire prevention, communications, or interactive community involvement in their strategic plans. These are excellent areas that can be enhanced by social media because they primarily require dissemination of information from the agency to the public.

Social Media, Misinformation, and Tsunami Disaster Management

Tsunami Threat Highlights the No. 1 Issue for Disaster Response Units: Misinformation on Social Media

Social Media: A Digital Weapon for Law Enforcement

What if law enforcement had the ability to identify and potentially prevent crime before it happened? What if they were able to get out in front of when and where criminal activity would occur, and deploy resources accordingly?

Software Defined Radio as a Solution to Interoperability & Connectivity Among New and Existing Public Safety Wireless Networks

Software Defined Radio (SDR) offers complete flexibility with respect to operating frequency, bandwidth, modulation, and overall application utility. With an SDR, users are afforded the capability to send and receive on multiple frequencies with adjustable bandwidth enabling the communication with existing and newly implemented networks/radios.

Software-Defined Radio in Emergency Response Communication

Over the past three decades, Software-defined radio (SDR) has evolved significantly to play a crucial role in wireless communication. In the early days adaptation was difficult as the equipment was considerably expensive. But over the past few years this technology has become increasingly cost-effective making it an ideal communications tool for emergency services.

Solving the Challenges of FirstNet: How to Ensure Public Safety Wireless Works Indoors

FirstNet - the first standardized nationwide emergency responder network, which will use LTE technology in the 700MHz frequency band and which will eventually supplant the use of existing public safety frequencies - will soon become available for use. However, there are already challenges that will arise from FirstNet's deployment.

Somerset County 9-1-1: The Crash of Flight 93

For the men and women at the 9-1-1 Center in Somerset County, PA, September 11 took on a personal meaning when United Airlines Flight 93, hi-jacked by terrorists and bound for an uncertain target in or near Washington DC, crashed in the midst of their jurisdiction, in a field in Shanksville, PA.

Special Needs Students Need Special Attention in Emergency Response Planning

For children who have physical, medical, sensory or cognitive disabilities, emergencies such as fires, floods, active shooter situations, and acts of terrorism present a unique challenge. FEMA and the Red Cross all agree that when developing the pre-incident plan as campus safety lead or as local first responder, it is imperative to think of everyone in the building.

Speeding Patient Care - Case Study: The Connected Ambulance

In 2010, the State of Georgia received a grant to bring mobile connectivity to approximately 100 EMS agencies statewide. For Southside Fire and other EMS services, a mobile broadband solution would allow teams in the field to not only file their reports with the state portal from the ambulance, but also transmit patient information to hospitals while en route.

Storm Surge Mapping Technology Will Save More Lives During Hurricane Season

The Suffolk County Office of Emergency Management used storm surge maps created by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District, to provide its emergency managers with an understanding of the potential for the extent of storm surge that could occur for worst case storms.

Stress & The Invisible First Responders

Even though my mind had adapted to the day-to-day adrenaline rush of vicariously encountering traumatic situations, I couldn't escape the physiological and emotional consequences. As a psychology major in the Hamilton Holt School at Rollins College, I was learning concepts that described what I was experiencing, and conversations with my coworkers revealed that I wasn't the only 9-1-1 dispatcher suffering the effects of being in a continual state of crisis.

Suffolk County Fire-Rescue MCU

The current Suffolk County Department of Fire-Rescue and Emergency Services Mobile Command Unit replaced a unit purchased in 1988, which contained a communications and incident command sections, but on a smaller scale. That in turn replaced an older unit put into service in the mid 1970s, the first concept of a command vehicle. This was a Fire Marshals van that was converted with a homemade built-in wooden cabinet containing several low-band radios, which was the only bandwidth in use at...

Supervision: 15 Evaluation Pain Killers

Bet most of you never had an evaluation you liked. Well, that's not true, I'm sure if it praised you as you deserved you liked it. Let's say you never had an evaluation you could honestly say was deeply meaningful, greatly insightful, and guided you towards greater mastery in your work. Can an evaluation really do all that?

Surge in Body Worn Camera Requests from Law Enforcement and Government Agencies: The Latest

Being a topic that continues to be towards the forefront of the news cycle and a technology increasingly in demand by law enforcement, government, military, and other entities, Bill Culhane, from BidPrime, and I collaborated on the following update to our original analysis. We submit that most will agree that body worn camera technology is no longer a "recent addition to the US public lexicon."

Survive & Thrive Fit Challenge Encourages Dispatchers to Get Fit

Survive & Thrive is one of Jim Marshall's more popular training courses. Marshall integrates principles of psychology with the field of emergency communications to help protect dispatchers from the unique stressors they face, as well as call-mastery courses that train them to better handle calls from people experiencing a mental health crisis.

Surviving the Storm: Using Technology to Save Lives during Hurricane Season

From a preparation and response standpoint, it's essential for first responders to have emergency communications plans in place to help them organize, stay connected, maintain their own safety, and most importantly, save lives during and after severe storms. A connected world means a safer world for emergency personnel, and the quicker they can share information, the better they can assess a situation, and formulate and execute a response plan.

Tactical Dispatching: Stand-Off in Susquehanna County, PA Ends Peacefully

At 08:07 we arrived on scene and had a briefing with the sergeant from the state police. We set the trailer up a few houses down from the actual scene. After acquiring aerial maps from our GIS data for the state police SERT team we erected our satellite dish and cell mast... we were just out of range of the satellite because of the mountainous terrain; however with our diverse communications methods available to us we were able to provide cellular communications and data.

Team Robot: Researchers Demonstrate Autonomous Vehicles With Advanced Collaborative Exploration and Mapping Capabilities

The ability to map and explore simultaneously represents a milestone in the Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST) Collaborative Technology Alliance Program, a major research initiative sponsored by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. The five-year program is led by BAE Systems and includes numerous principal and general members comprised largely of universities...

Technology Development & the Power of Human Factors in Emergency Notification Systems

In the past, emergency alerts and notifications were largely dependent on outdoor sirens, radio broadcasts and television alerts. Yet, the 2012 Federal Signal Public Safety survey found that 36% of Americans would be motivated to take action in an emergency based on ANS alerts, including call, text and email notifications, over any other form of communication... Though a variety of human factors such as age, physical disabilities and cultural differences have always been a concern in planning...

Telephone Swatting: A New Look at an Old Problem

In early February, national media provided extensive coverage of the so-called "swatting" of 9-1-1 calls. This was triggered, in part, by a Department of Justice press release concerning the guilty plea entered by an eighteen year old Boston man on a string of related charges.

Terror, Tragedy And Turmoil: Reflections on Terrorism

From the terrorist standpoint, attacks on civilian targets like the World Trade Center are political acts. Perpetrators are heroes, martyrs in their own society, perhaps even heroes among elements of American society. In their twisted reckoning, they are paid lobbyists. While their stated enemy counterparts lobby US politicians with cash and favors, the terrorist is paid with salvation. Hate is wrong in any society. Religious fervor is evil when manipulated by ungodly men.

Terrorism And Urban Search And Rescue

FEMA sponsors 28 national urban search-and-rescue (US&R) task force teams, comprised of fire-rescue specialists, structural engineers, medical professionals, logistical and communications specialists, canine disaster search teams, and incident support managers, ready to serve as a national resource for disaster rescue response nationwide. "As soon as it became obvious that we were facing a major terrorist event, we knew we were going to have structural collapse responses," said Dave Webb,...

Terrorism Preparedness: PSAPs Get Ready for the Future

"We need to ask questions and get a good understanding of what the (situation) is," said Hollman. "Each caller is different, some may be aware of something unusual and some may be very hysterical. But the basics are still the where's and what's. That's what a dispatcher needs to find out."

Texas Holds its First Mobile Command Vehicle Rally

On October 13, 2016, the Harris County Sheriffs Office and the City of Pasadena Office of Emergency Management hosted our first Southeast Texas Region Mobile Command Vehicle Rally at the Pasadena Convention Center. The event was a huge success with a large turnout of participants and Mobile Command vehicles.

Texas Police Department seizes cartel’s Corvette, names it 'Coptimus Prime'

"Coptimus Prime," the New Braunfels PD's new asset seizure Corvette, makes official debut in today's Comal County Fair Parade in New Braunfels, Texas. The 2007 Chevrolet Corvette Z06, with after-market modifications for racing, was seized during a large methamphetamine raid in June of 2011

Text to 9-1-1: Things to Consider

This new technology is only the latest in what has been an almost constant drumbeat since 9-1-1 was first developed almost thirty years ago. The next few years will see callers having the ability to send photos and video, as well as text messages, into the 9-1-1 Center. This presents our Centers with some opportunities, as well as a few challenges.

Text-to-9-1-1 Is Here. Is Your PSAP Ready?

Conceptually, text-to-911 is a milestone on the complex roadmap to NG9-1-1. It involves a host of stakeholders outside of the direct PSAP environment. Carriers, hardware and software vendors, regulatory bodies (FCC and others), the PSAP network and more must continue to work together to create the infrastructure that will enable NG9-1-1 as they have done with text-to-911.

Text-to-9-1-1: Operational Considerations after Vermont Trial

Beginning last April, the state of Vermont conducted a six-month trial to test the potential of 9-1-1 text messaging services... With the trial period having culminated on October 15th, 9-1-1 Magazine recently spoke with David Tucker about his views of the viability of test-to-9-1-1 services following the completion of the state's trial program.

Text-to-911: History repeats, experience matters and doing the right thing

The FCC has responded to an agreement between APCO/NENA and the Big 4 wireless carriers with its Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the subject of text-to-9-1-1. For those of us who have been watching and waiting to learn what will be done about SMS, and for those of us involved in moving toward equal access for all, this is a monumental decision!

That Darkness Known As Depression

I am an Emergency Dispatcher and I must do something which is very difficult for me to do. I am admitting that I have PTSD, depression and anxiety. I know that there are many others in the Emergency Dispatch community who are quietly struggling as well. Although we do not see the scenes that we send our officers, firefighters and medics to, we are not immune to the trauma. I would like to share some of what I have learned through my own experience, in walking through this darkness.

That Moment That Reminds Us Why We Do This Job

As any public safety dispatcher or telecommunicator will tell you it's a dedicated job with many ups and down. For Patricia, a dispatcher in Missouri this recent moment is one of her favorites. Everything meaningful about the job, and why we do it, is encapsulated in this one photograph and the caption that goes with it.

The "Dumbing" of Dispatchers

One of the more common complaints heard around the PSAP (Public Safety Answering Point) concerns the "dumbing of dispatchers. This gripe typically comes from members with a little bit of time under their belts, and the propensity to wax poetic about the good old days.

The Aurora Theater Shooting - Five Years Later

Last Thursday, July 21st, was the fifth anniversary of the Aurora Theater Shooting in Colorado, a tragedy that affected first responders and theatergoers from around the country. From our archives, here are my thoughts in the editorial page for 9-1-1 Magazine posted on the 21st.

The Blue Wall: Corruption Charges in NYC

They are sworn to uphold the law. When they go wrong there is nobody to stop them. That there are corrupt cops is not surprising. That their criminal conduct is condoned, even applauded, by other police officers is appalling. A continuing scandal in the New York Police Department under Commissioner Ray Kelly has sparked protests by tough looking cops rallying around the courthouse to support Officer Joe Ramos, a 17-year veteran of the NYPD. Ramos was indicted for making a heroin buy and...

THE CALL: 9-1-1 Goes Hollywood - The Dispatcher as Action Hero

I just got back from seeing THE CALL, the first movie thriller to feature a 9-1-1 dispatcher as its central protagonist. While not without criticisms, I enjoyed the movie and felt gratified to be able to cheer the film for its positive image of the public safety telecommunicator in a heroic role of action. Xena, step aside

The Calls Will Go On: NPSTW & The Titanic Anniversary

Did you know that there is a link between the NPSTW and one of the greatest disasters of the twentieth century? This year commemorates the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic on April 15, 1912. How can answering a 9-1-1 line or monitoring a radio channel be related to an event over one hundred years ago?

The Changing Face of the First Responder: Emergency Services and Proactive Paramedicine

Improvements in fire safety have caused a significant decline in the number of fires in the United States, making the job description for the modern firefighter much different than it was 30 years ago. The Fishers Fire Department of Indiana has taken this shift in stride, renaming themselves Fishers Emergency Services. The WeCare community paramedicine program is one way Fishers is redefining the modern fire department. Often, patients who call 9-1-1 with health issues like hypertension and...

The Communications Center Of The Future

The era of nanotechnology is here, and with this technology, the world will be able to achieve things beyond the dreams of mortals. Nanotechnology will change our environment in the most fundamental way since the development of tools. The excitement lies in the theoretical possibilities that may one day overturn economies. In the next decade and a half, policing will become more difficult. Policing computer and internet crimes is already challenging; adding wireless technology and...

The Customer Service Challenge: Police vs. Nordstrom

"The Customer is Always Right" has long been a cliche' used in the customer service industry, prompting businesses in the private sector to provide the highest quality of professional service to meet customer satisfaction. So how can we apply this principle to law enforcement without turning police agencies into a Nordstrom's?

The Dark Mind Descends: The Aurora Movie Shootings

Within moments of the awful shooting spree in which 71 people were shot (12 fatally) as they watched the midnight premiere of the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises, in Aurora, Colorado, news had taken wing and spread across the Internet. A rushing wave of incredulity and sorrow swept across social media networks like Facebook and Twitter as those of us still up after midnight read with heartache and horror what transpired in the flickering darkness of Aurora's Century 16 Theater.

The Day I Went from Dispatcher to a First Responder

If you work as a dispatcher long enough, you inevitably face one of our occupation's worst type of calls: the death of a child. Any death call can be traumatic, especially if it comes on the heels of something you have recently experienced yourself, such as the death of a parent.

The Deer in the Wildfire: The Story Behind the Photo

The photograph is striking. The vibrant colors show two elk surrounded by huge walls of fire. Many have already downloaded the picture from the NIFC website and put it on their own websites. Others have attributed this once-in-a-lifetime portrait as being fake, or perhaps shot in Yellowstone... The picture is genuine, and is the work of John McColgan, a Fuels Management Specialist with the Alaska Fire Service,

The Dispatcher's Role in Designing A New Dispatch Facility

Building Your Comm Center, Part 1: ...Dispatchers had an integral part in not only the design of their work environment, but also had the opportunity for input about other areas of the building. Overall interior color schemes, tile and carpet selection, outside roof color and building accent colors, types of lockers and the interior courtyard to name a few...

The Emergency Call Tracking System: Making 9-1-1 Inroads in California

Over the last 15 years, 9-1-1 reporting systems have been evolving and dramatic improvements have been made with the advancement of technology. Direct Technology, a leading custom software development firm, has witnessed and contributed to this progression. The Roseville, California based group has developed a deep understanding of how to deploy and manage an extremely successful and dependable 9-1-1 reporting system.

The Emergency Doctrine: Doing the Right Thing

The Emergency Doctrine was created by human lawmakers who understood that if we are held to our normal standard of care during times when meeting such a standard is impossible, we may not act at all out of fear that we will do the wrong thing.

The Facts About 1-1-2 vs. 9-1-1

You may have seen recent posts on social media sites urging people in the U.S. to dial 1-1-2 rather than 9-1-1 in certain emergencies. This is bad advice. The posts claim that 1-1-2 is especially effective if you are being pulled over in your car and want to ensure that you are dealing with the police. It also claims that by dialing 1-1-2, your call will be answered faster and may go directly to the police. Here are the facts:

The Four E's of Crash Analytics

In an effort to combat the high costs, deaths and injuries associated with traffic collisions, state departments of transportation (DOT) work closely with law enforcement agencies, state traffic safety offices and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to plan and implement policies that can help reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes. One approach is through the Four Es of traffic safety - Enforcement, Engineering, Education and Emergency Medical Services.

The Gang Problem: Difficult to Define and Even More Difficult to Solve (Part 1 of 3)

Once found principally in large cities, violent street gangs now affect public safety, community image, and quality of life in communities of all sizes in urban, suburban, and rural areas. No region of the United States is untouched by gangs...

The Gang Problem: Gang Migration - Midwest (Part 3 of 3)

Inner city gang thugs moving from the cities and literally raping, pillaging, and plundering rural America's smaller cities. Like locusts moving from one town to the next, leaving nothing but crime ridden and drug infested cities now mere shadows of their former selves in the wake of the gangsters leaving and those staying behind -- like enemy troops on occupied territory.

The Gang Problem: Street Gangs on the East Coast (Part 2 of 3)

The ongoing crisis faced by law enforcement across the United States and internationally concerning gang activity centers around criminal activity perpetrated by gang members that are well structured and organized. They are motivated by profit from violent crimes and burglaries as well as from trafficking in illegal controlled substances.

The Ghosts of Christmases Past

There will always be a select number of calls whose memory will follow each and every one of us throughout our careers and become indelibly imprinted as part of the holiday season... Despite the severity of these events and others like them, the names of those involved have dimmed over the years. While the streets and neighborhoods involved are often associated with these recollections, the most common denominator is the deep seated sorrow that "something like this could happen near the...

The Growing Threat to PSAPs from Telephony Denial of Service (TDoS) Attacks

In the ongoing discussion of how public safety can mitigate TDoS attacks, this article will focus on the hardening of existing 9-1-1 technologies and how Next Generation 9-1-1 (NG9-1-1) will substantially increase the capacity of PSAPs to handle large call volumes, whether resulting from TDoS attacks or from concurrent legitimate calls. And finally, it will address how FirstNet, the new nationwide public safety network, will play a critical role in securing public safety communications and...

The Hidden Hazards of Chemical Suicide

Police and firefighters in Aurora, Colorado responded to an apartment building after a report was made of the smell of rotten eggs in the area. The building was evacuated, and responders entered an apartment whose bathroom had been taped shut with duct tape. Signs warned of hazardous materials inside. A young woman's body was soon removed from the residence. Welcome to the new and terrifying world of chemical suicide. As a 9-1-1 dispatcher, it's important for you to know that this threat...

The Human Element in Emergency Dispatching: Can Chatterbot Technology Carry the Torch for a Modern 9-1-1 System?

Legacy 9-1-1 emergency operations systems are undergoing modernization into the next generation of 9-1-1 systems. Chatterbot and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies as a part of PSAP capacities also have the potential to significantly enhance, or even replace, the human element as the core of 9-1-1 center operations.

The Importance of Attending a Citizen's Academy

Newly hired police officers go through a police academy for training. A citizen's academy is the same principle, but designed for members of the community. It gives the general public a behind-the-scenes look at how police agencies work. Citizen's academies vary in length depending on the hosting agency and that agency's goals; some can be as short as 4 weeks, while others can be as long as 16 weeks.

The Importance of Doing a Sit-Along with a Dispatcher

Most people are familiar with a ride-along: the opportunity for a member of the public to "ride along" with a police officer during a patrol shift responding to calls for service. You have probably seen popular television shows, like COPS for example, where you see the excitement of police officers driving with lights and sirens activated to go help someone. But what about the dispatcher who first answered the 9-1-1 call before the officer was even sent to help?

The Importance of Mitigating Oneself

Given that we can’t escape the harsh reality of man’s inhumanity to man, we really do owe it to ourselves to learn to effectively mitigate the affect these unpleasantries have on ourselves...

The Importance of Storm Spotting

...From Action News Central... A tornado warning is in effect until 6pm for...

The Mobility Edge: Innovative Technology for Public Safety

The Emergency Services professions all across America are facing some tough challenges. The result has been a reduction in manpower and resources in all areas of Police/Fire/EMS. Despite these cutbacks, the public still wants the safety and security of their families provided for. The only solution to these mounting issues going forward is simple, Police/Fire/EMS need to begin adopting to the new innovative technologies beginning to become available. These new innovations will allow these...

The Morale of the Story

Recently, the question "What does your dispatch center do to boost morale?" was raised in an online forum. Although a few respondents had positive examples, the majority were overwhelmingly negative...

The New Age of Electronic Patient Data Sharing

Technological advances in clinical data exchange between EMS service providers and hospitals are of growing importance. Decisions made in the ER are only as good as the information they receive and the ease of access they have to that data... Electronic Patient Care Reporting (ePCR) systems allow EMTs and paramedics to collect and utilize incident and patient EMS data not only for their own agency, but for the hospital on the receiving end.

The Next Generation 9-1-1 Administrator: The Need For Position Diversity

The challenges facing today's 9-1-1 administrators, coordinators, directors, and/or managers are forcing them to decide how and when to proceed; and how to fund changes. These issues are forcing these professionals to attempt to wear many cloaks or, at best, to become multi-faceted in their technical, budgetary, and operations and training knowledge and abilities in order to most effectively respond to the changes. Due to these realities they need to be systemically diversified in their...

The Next Generation Communications Center

I believe that we are going to see more change in the Communications Center in the next five to ten years than we have seen in the last 25... And now we are moving to Next Generation 9-1-1. I prefer to call it Next Generation Communications Center - because I believe NG9-1-1 has a lot more to do with the entire function and operation of the communications center than just 9-1-1.

The Numbers Game: Are Score-Based QA Systems Truly Representative of Dispatcher Performance?

In a profession as critical - and criticized - as our contemporary 9-1-1 occupation, adherence to policies and procedures becomes extremely important. This is especially true for agencies that provide some measure of post-dispatch and/or pre-arrival instructions to callers, directing the caller to actively do something to stabilize a patient or begin to mitigate an emergency before the arrival of the dispatched first responders. Evaluating performance and compliance with protocols and...

The Pachyderm in the PSAP

An unusually poetic commentary of the state-of-the-art of dispatcher staffing and retention. In the spirit of a holiday jingle, PSAP Management columnist Barry Furey examines the issues in rhyming meter and creative wordplay to address a one of the major issues challenging 9-1-1 Centers this year - and likely next.

The Poomacha Fire

The Poomacha Fire started in the early hours of October 23 as a residential structure fire that spread to the wildland. Around noon that day, I received a call from CAL FIRE Battalion Chief Alan Knapp from the Lake-Napa-Sonoma Unit; the Communications Unit Leader (COML) on California Incident Management Team 4, which had been pre-staged in Southern California awaiting assignment and were now heading to San Diego County to support command of the Poomacha fire.

The Port Authority Police: The World Trade Center's Public Safety Agency

The September 11th atrocities claimed the lives of 37 police officers of the New York/New Jersey Port Authority Police Department, including the department's Chief, Deputy Chief, and Inspector, and destroyed the department's headquarters and 9-1-1 center. An officer from every rank gave their lives in what New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani called "the greatest rescue of modern times, since in so doing the rescuers saved more than 25,000 people."

The Problem with Quality

Quality Improvement (QI) is a relatively new concept in emergency communications. Called by many names, including Total Quality Management or Control, Quality Assurance, and Statistical Quality Control, among others, QI has existed in the modern era since post WWII Japan when quality experts like Dr. W. Edwards Deming and Joseph M. Juran helped to re-industrialize the war-torn country.

The Reliability of the Commercial Network

What is often lost in the debate over the fate of the D-Block is the proven reliability of commercial networks. Indeed a great divide exists between the perception by some in the public safety community, who often cast doubt that these networks are dependable enough, and the reality, that more often, it is the commercial network that is the only one left standing.

The Return of High Frequency: HF-NVIS, Your Regional Communications Lifeline When Everything Else is Broken

HF (High Frequency) and NVIS (Near Vertical Incident Skywave) provide a simple and reliable solution for backup communications over a wide regional area with no intervening infrastructure whatever. It should be part of every public safety agency's toolset for springing back after a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

The Rise of Cybercrime and What Law Enforcement Needs to Know About Protecting Sensitive Data

Public safety professionals continue to adopt new technologies that allow them to monitor potentially dangerous or illegal activities and gain access to information that improves their ability to do their job, and the quality of the services being provided. However, municipalities that purchase and implement these technologies are often at risk themselves from hidden vulnerabilities that can be exploited by cyber criminals. Thus, sensitive data that is necessary for reporting crime and...

The Shooting at Virginia Tech

On the morning of April 16, 2007, the quiet calm that hung over the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, southwestern Virginia, was pierced by the sharp pop of gunshots and the cries and screams of panic and pain.

The Silence of the Innocents

Beyond my grief for the children and families of Newtown is a deep concern for the public safety responders of Newtown and the police, fire, and EMS dispatchers who shared their response and its aftermath... dispatchers who may not have witnessed directly but felt the event just as keenly in the voices of 9-1-1 callers and response units from the scene.

The Stress at Both Ends of the Phone: Burn Out and Empathy Fatigue

Burn out and empathy fatigue happen in similar circumstances but have different symptoms. A burn out is a condition in which the person worked so hard at near-peak production or efficiency that they lose touch with themselves... Empathy fatigue occurs when a person consistently feels the pain and suffering of another. Boundaries between two or more individuals become blurred and the person has great trouble distinguishing between their emotions and that of another.

The Technology You Need To Survive A Killer Tornado

After tornadoes left over 300 dead in just a 24 hour period those in the across the country are now aware that technology, email, text alerts, and weather radios prevented an astronomical death toll. Some of the supercell storms from Wednesday were so extreme that if anyone in their path didnt adequately seek shelter they would not survive. By a miracle, highly visible tornadoes during the day Wednesday combined with media coverage saved many whom are counting their blessings today. Had the...

The Two Major Roles of Public Safety Recording Systems

Recording systems for public safety agencies may be viewed from two different perspectives: their performance during an event and their performance after one. During an emergency, the protection of lives and property eclipses all other needs. Recording systems must meet special demands, improve performance, and make a tough job easier for police, firefighters, air-traffic controllers, and other public safety officials. After an event, a precise analysis can be equally crucial because it...

The Underlying Problem With 9-1-1: Rescuers Can't Help Citizens If They Can't Locate Them

Most 9-1-1 map data is flawed across the country. Its inaccurate and outdated - missing new streets, closed roads and sometimes whole new developments. It frustrates first responders who have to double-back on roads searching for an address thats out of numerical order. It can be life-threatening to citizens who need assistance, yet their location cannot be identified quickly or with spot-on precision.

The View from Dispatch: Oakland PD

Sidebar to Maze Meltdown: The Story of a Unique Fire by Stephen L. Cutright, Fire Chief, City of Emeryville

Three Best Practices for Tier 1 Public Safety Agencies

New technology alone is not always a positive force – it must be accompanied by sensible policies that ensure the investments are making the greatest possible impact, chief among them mastering the use of interoperability, analytics and scalability in conducting business in public safety.

Tips for a Stress-Less Workplace

There are many habits and practices you can do on a regular basis to keep you very healthy and happy. Some of these tips are specific to the workplace, some are general lifestyle suggestions that I've found to be valuable in achieving an overall sense of stress-less well being.

To Serve and to Protect: Hearing Protection at Its Best

Many of today's emergency personal are missing one integral component of their daily uniform, hearing protection. Between loud sirens, radio blasts and even gunshots, high decibels of noise might be lurking during the next emergency call that is responded to. It comes as no surprise that occupational hearing loss is a serious health issue for those in emergency related fields, but what is surprising is how little is being done to prevent it.

Top 10 Tips on Developing A Mobile Command Unit

Plan, plan, planAs in real estate, the three keys to success when building a mobile command vehicle are plan, plan, plan. Your planning process should involve key personnel from all of the agencies that will be impacted by the new vehicle. If you have already selected your vendor, they can also add value. A solid plan keeps the process on track and on budget.

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Tracking Technology Keeps Rescuers Safe

Although searchers are trained in the latest safety procedures, the remoteness of the terrain and the challenges of operating in small teams meant the risk was high. The team contacted PRYME Radio Products, a company which makes audio accessories such as earphones and headsets for two-way radios, about their GPSMIC system.

Training in Multi-tasking: To Save Or To Let Go - How Do You Know?

Many trainees are lost after coming to the floor to begin answering phones or work phones and radio for the first time. A person with great promise sits in the chair to answer calls and something unexpected often happens: they can't seem to keep up; they freeze or panic. Trainers often attribute this to an inability to multi-task. The devil however is in the details...

Transforming A Ho-Hum Mass Notification Service Into A Powerhouse Collaboration Tool

Today's mass notification systems are no doubt still highly effective for warning people during emergencies and critical events. However, they are no longer relegated exclusively to getting people’s attention. With advancements in capabilities, they are fast becoming tools for both alerting and collaborating - for both warning people that a problem exists, and aiding in the problem’s resolution.

Trends in Command Vehicle Bid Requests and Purchases

Over the past 36 months, there has been a consistent pattern of public sector purchasing activity for emergency command vehicles. In part, this procurement activity is backed by grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). In addition, a number of other sources have been responsible for subsidizing funding.

Trends in PSAP Console Furniture

The public safety and emergency communications industry moves at a fast pace. In an ever-changing environment - from the nature of calls taken, to shifting employee needs, to advances in technology - call center managers, supervisors, and dispatchers need to stay abreast of the latest industry trends. While new technologies and call center designs are clearly important, it's also crucial to acknowledge emerging trends in ergonomic console furniture. Well-designed workstations provide...

True Mobility Trend Favors "Ruggedish" Mobile & Handheld Computers

The large cell phone and computer manufacturers are increasingly launching smartphones and other mobile devices that are rugged, or rather "ruggedish." Handheld's founder and CEO Jerker Hellstrom takes a look at the reasons for this trend and where it might leave the traditional rugged computer makers. He also explains what rugged really means for public safety users.

TV Crime Dramas versus Reality

In the years following 9/11, several TV dramas have popularized the notion that there are a lot of high-tech developments, not to mention relaxation of due process, prevalent today in the pursuit of criminal suspects. It's hard to watch all these shows portraying modern law enforcement techniques and separate fantasy from fact.

Tweet This, Google That: Managing 9-1-1 in the Digital Age

As administrators we are often guided by formalized regulations. That's why having a comprehensive social media policy is critical in our current environment. Nothing should be taken for granted. It's imperative to cover both official and non-official use of the Internet, and to clarify the distinction between the two.

United Flight 93 Revisited: Command and Control in Shanksville

Since Shanksville is located in a very rural area, the Pennsylvania State Police were in charge of the crash scene, although numerous other agencies would follow to conduct the investigation and necessary follow-up tasks.

Unknown: In the Shadow of 9/11

There will never be a solution to religious feuding. It is in the makeup of the human psyche. It wouldnt happen at all if the unknown was known. All of this so far sounds philosophical, something first year students of religion might discuss in college. What much does religion have to do with nations and world affairs? Everything. What does the unknown have to do with religion? Everything.

US Coast Guard Responds to Ground Zero

While thousands of US Coast Guard members remain ready to protect freedom on our nation's waterways, a handful have provided difficult and emotional support tasks in the midst of Ground Zero - what remains of the World Trade Center complex.

US&R Communications at the World Trade Center

The Puget Sound Washington US&R Task Force encountered several communication difficulties during our deployment to the World Trade Center incident. We were deployed at the site from September 19th-29th and spent most of the assignment working in the Church Street Sector or East Branch area of responsibility between WTC Buildings 4 and 5.

Using ICS for Interoperability

Technology isn't the only answer to interoperability. The Department of Homeland Security is trying to get people to understand there is a "continuum of interoperability" that includes operations and exercises beyond the technology. The Incident Command System (ICS) has been at the center of many of these activities and has shown its ability to manage communications at large scale and well-integrated incidents.

Using Technology to Fix Human Problems

You don't have to look too far to see how technology has changed the way we go about our day. From checking our email on our smartphones first thing in the morning to using GPS when we get in our cars, technology keeps changing and it keeps adjusting to the needs of the people who use it. These solutions have grown out of a problem that people need to have solved, whether it's a way to receive messages in a more timely manner or to find accurate directions. Both of these technological...

Vendor's Corner: Technology and Emergency 9-1-1 Operations

As the last ten years have seen huge advancements in the communication technologies we use in our everyday connected lifestyles with smart phones, tablet PCs, netbooks, and the like, there has also been a paradigm shift in how we gather, consume and disseminate information. No longer must we rely on the media for telling us what is happening around the world, but we now can plug directly into news channels via social media outlets, situational awareness alerting services, blogs, etc. to...

Verint Systems Introduces Forecasting and Scheduling Capabilities to Its Impact 360 for Public Safety Solution

Verint Systems Inc. has announced the availability of new forecasting and scheduling functionality to its Impact 360 for Public Safety Powered by Audiolog solution. The workforce optimization software is designed for today's public safety answering points (PSAPs), command and control, and emergency communications centers.

Verizon's Operation Convergent Response

Verizon's Operation Convergent Response (OCR) was the first large-scale demonstration of how networked services could be used to instantly provide information to First Responders. OCR brought together the leading experts in emergency response and communications for two days of hands-on exercises.

Video 9-1-1

High-tech digital equipment doesn't need to be used by just law enforcement officials to be an effective piece of evidence. And, truth be told, the equipment doesn't even need to be that high-tech. That is why camera phones have become such an important part of incident investigations nationally. From the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech University in April 2007 to a common hit-and-run accident, getting visual evidence may no longer be difficult and time-consuming with the prevalence of...

Video Aids Wildfire Management in San Diego County

On Sunday, October 21, 2007 the first of many wildfires began burning out of control in the Portero area of San Diego County. Fueled by high off shore winds, multiple fires were tracked and managed over the course of 10 days.

Video: Firefighter’s Helmet Cam shows challenges faced in California wildfire-spawned structure fire

Posted by Modesto Firefighters Local 1289 on YouTube - On 05/16/2014 at 18:16 Modesto Regional Fire Authority (CA) responded to a 3-alarm fire at 516 Comstock Court. The following raw footage is from a helmet camera worn by a MRFA Firefighter who responded to the Emerald Ave. fire with over 22 other units from Modesto and neighboring agencies. Firefighters were challenged by 15-20 mph winds and lack of initial man power.

Vulnerability Assessments for Public and Private Facilities

From a homeland security standpoint, office, storage, and manufacturing buildings are not typically the subject of a man-made disaster, such as a terrorist attack.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police Mark First Year of Live Operation with Integrated Public Safety Software System from CODY Systems

CODY Systems, an industry leader in integrated software solutions for real-time collection, analysis and sharing of critical data for public safety, law enforcement, regulatory enforcement and intelligence agencies, reported that as of Oct. 15, 2010, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police (WDFW) has marked its first year of live operation with a full implementation of CODY's integrated software suite, including Desktop Records Management and Mobile Records Management and Field...

West Yellowstone Smokejumpers Fighting Forest Fires Before They Get Out Of Control

The Smokejumpers program started in 1939, when firefighters realized that it could take a day to hike into the back country to get to a fire. By the time the firefighters arrived the fires spread and often burned out of control. “They realized that parachuting was quick. Firefighters could put it out before it took hold,” Charlie said....

What a Difference A Decimal Point Makes In Searching For Someone

What is vital is to bring to the attention of SARS, EMS, and particularly Emergency Communications personal something that could have resulted in a tragic outcome had the situation been life threatening.

What Communications Products Will End Users Need Next?

Dave George, engineer and President of Pryme, has released his annual trends forecast for communications and technology. This year's predictions focus on end-user-driven developments affecting all industries including government, public safety, transportation, security, healthcare, and more. The upshot - future direction of communication devices and hardware is being heavily influenced by the mobile applications end users prefer.

What Exactly Is a Neighborhood Watch Program?

Neighborhood Watch is a community crime prevention program that was launched by the National Sheriffs Association in 1972 to encourage citizens to look out for each other, work on neighborhood problems, and make themselves safer. According to the National Neighborhood Watch Program, more than 40 percent of Americans live in areas covered by Neighborhood Watch groups.

What if there was no 9-1-1? - Recruitment & Training for the REAL Job

In a recent NBC news report, it was noted that the Albuquerque Dispatcher who hung up on the 9-1-1 caller because she swore at him has resigned. Chris Carver of National Emergency Number Association (NENA) stated that "hiring the right people can sometimes be more important than training." But perhaps the real question Mr. Carver should be asking, is: do people understand fully what they are signing up for?

What Kids Think About 9-1-1: A Fifth Grader's Perspective

We all know that 9-1-1 is something that all kids, like us, should know about. But are the kids really interested? How can we help them become interested? Do they know everything they really should? What do they want to know? What's the best way for them to learn? This interview, taken from a fifth-grader's point of view, should answer those questions.

What Use Our Work?

As April rolls around again, we spend time educating the public about 9-1-1 and honoring our brightest and best employees. But, it seems to me that one thing we rarely do is sit back and take a long hard look at what it is that we really do, because absent of the speeches, proclamations, and news clips lies this measure. And what we really do is pretty darn good.

What You Should Know About Creating Seamless Regional Public Safety Communications Networks

At a recent symposium on public safety communication hosted by Airbus DS Communications in Tampa, public safety and emergency management officials gathered to learn more about new technologies available to enable them to create interoperable communications networks. Here are some of the symposium’s key takeaways and what 9-1-1 managers need to know about implementing improved communication systems:

What Your CAD is Missing

While officers respond to a variety of disturbances each year, they typically enter each of these situations blindly and without the information necessary to distinguish if the call has the potential to turn violent. Providing this information before an officer reaches a scene is not just a valuable tool, but arguably the duty of a modern dispatch system...

What's Next for Next Gen 9-1-1

For multiple reasons, a wide variety of changes are coming to 9-1-1. When the dust settles, the outstanding service our first responders provide today will be enhanced. Citizens will be able to reach help in a number of new ways, the communications infrastructure will be even more reliable and predictable, and existing infrastructure we have come to rely upon will be enhanced to take us through the next 35 years.

What's On Your Desktop? Monitors, Maps, and Manuals that Shape Our World

The tools of the 21st Century telecommunicator are as diverse as the duties he or she performs. Chances are good that some form of Computer Aided Dispatch graces the work space; however the size of the community served plays a major role in whether or not automation is used. According to a 1999 survey performed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 100% of municipalities serving 250,000 or more residents were computerized, while only 18% of towns with less than 2,500 people had gone digital.

What's the App For 9-1-1? How Third Party Software Compromises Emergency Reporting

Accompanying the increasing popularity of smartphones came the commensurate popularity of applications or "apps" that made them even smarter. Much of this programming is fun, helpful, or at least innocuous. But what happens when a variety of applications - some obviously designed without public safety input - promise to enhance your enhanced 9-1-1 experience?

When Dispatchers Take A Knee: Public Employees and Standards of Conduct

While we seemingly find offense in anything and everything of late, there can be serious ramifications when these complaints focus on suspected violations of the law, contractual agreements, and accepted standards. As the debate rages on, perhaps we should take a time out to consult our playbook about what to do when a dispatcher takes a knee.

When Lives are at Stake, Mobile App Evaluation Becomes Even More Critical

Mobile apps claim to do just about anything imaginable… Some of them are extremely valuable and promise to transform emergency response, while others can be deceptive and even counterproductive. How do public safety agencies separate the wheat from the chaff? In advance of any national standards, here’s a framework to consider for evaluating apps.

When Mud Flows

On October 2, 2007, gale-force Santa Ana winds whipped up wildland fires throughout Southern California, charring 517,267 acres; destroying 2,233 homes, five businesses, and 966 outbuildings; killing 10 people and injuring another 139; and launching the largest evacuation in California history, according to the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services (OES).

When Your Apple Watch Accidentally Calls 9-1-1...

The Apple watch now features a safety option called SOS which, activated, instantly connects the watch to your iPhone and dials the local 9-1-1 PSAP associated with your location... But the configuration of the SOS button and its operation may be causing numerous unintended calls to 9-1-1... - from an article posted to by Brad Moon

Where Are The 9-1-1 College Programs?

Are there great ideas to increase the pool of qualified or experienced candidates for 9-1-1 Jobs? YES! Have you thought about working with your local college?

Where's Watson When We Really Need Him?

Obviously, back in the pioneering days of telephony, technology was a lot simpler than it is today. Complexity grows over time. Man had walked in space before we handled our first true 9-1-1 call, and Automatic Number Identification (ANI) and Automatic Location Identification (ALI) came along after that. One can argue that 9-1-1 never got any better since then.

White Paper: Radio DiagnostX Technology

Now linked from our home page: a White Paper from Locus Diagnostics, the only system that can diagnose the health of a radio, over-the-air in real time, 24/7. The paper provides an overview of DiagnostX technology and its innovative approach to Over the Air Bench Testing resulting in early detection of potential mobile and portable radio transmission problems, narrowband performance verification and diagnostics in trunked and conventional radio networks.

Why Can't Public Safety Just Use Cell Phones?

Why can't public safety just use cell phones and smart phones for their mission critical voice communications? Unfortunately it's not that simple. Although public safety regularly use cell phones, smart phones, and other commercial wireless devices and services as a secondary form of communications, these devices and systems are currently not sufficiently suited for public safety mission critical voice communications during critical incidents.

Why some Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) can be suspect themselves

Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) has drawn the attention of law enforcement across the nation because of its ability to capture, categorize and catalog important data for analysis of specific patterns of criminal activity as it occurs and during its planning stages. Determining when non-suspect activity becomes suspect activity can be difficult to ascertain, however. For example, tourists in big cities take photos of infrastructure - buildings, roads, tunnels and bridges. They're not...

Why Your Public Safety Agency needs an Emergency Notification System

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are somber reminders of the critical importance of effective citizen communication. These recent tragedies have public safety agencies nationwide reviewing their crisis communications systems and plans. While many agencies today have implemented emergency notification systems as part of these plans there are still many communities that have not. Moreover, many agencies that have implemented an emergency notification systems may not be utilizing them to their full...

Wildfire: How does the Incident Management Team system work?

The US Forest Service has put together a photo-based, captioned slide show to describe what these national Incident Management Teams are, and how and why they are utilized to maintain a high level of dedicated and qualified management on incidents such as we are seeing in the current Western US wildfires.

Will Congress Set the Tone for NG9-1-1?

Too many PSAPs currently lack the proper funding to upgrade their decades-old legacy circuit-switched network systems to "Next-Generation 9-1-1" (NG9-1-1) systems... To increase overall network availability and resiliency, PSAPs need to eliminate potential points of failure by incorporating a best practice known as network path diversity...

Working Fire: Palmyra NJ All Hands Dwelling Fire

On January 31, 2011 a dwelling fire was dispatched in Palmyra NJ at 519 Cinnaminson Ave. Initial reports were received of occupants trapped inside the dwelling. Companies arrived with heavy smoke and fire conditions from the multiple family dwelling.

Workplace Stress and Leadership

It takes about 35 seconds in a Communications Center to realize it is a stressful career. The reporting parties, the officers, and firefighters we support are often the least of our stressors. As with any profession under the sun, our immediate supervisor may be the primary source of workplace stress. Snap. That could be you.

Writing Public Safety Noir: A Conversation with novelist Kurt Kamm

Malibu resident Kurt Kamm has used his access to Los Angeles County and LA City firefighters and his experience in several devastating local wildfires to write his novels.9-1-1 Magazine recently spoke to Kurt Kamm about how his experiences have flavored his books and how writing from a public safety viewpoint has given them a unique edge.

You're Not Listening: Issues on Public Safety Radio Monitoring

The monitoring of public safety communications has long been a pastime for many... Live Internet streaming of broadcast feeds now brings emergencies worldwide into the home. Encryption of radio frequencies is not universally endorsed, but it sure does put a crimp on listening. Critics say it interferes with the concept of citizen involvement and community policing, but advocates cite the need for officer safety...

You’re on First! Professionals Behind the Headset

Celebrating National Public Safety Telecommunicators week reminds us of the thousands of people who dedicate their lives to being there for those who are in need. Citizens naturally recognize the face of the first responder as their hero. Very rarely do they know that the professionals behind the headset are truly the FIRST, first responders - the 9-1-1 crisis response team!

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