The Mid-America Regional Council (Kan./Mo.) has formed a task force to focus on a grant application that would fund Phase III of the region’s interoperability plan. The money could come be $1 billion in funds allocated through the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, and would require 20% matching from local governments. MARC intends to build a 700 MHz, Project-25 voice and radio network that would link the region’s public safety agencies.
An article in the Roanoke Times (Virg.) notes the high turn-over rates for the region’s public safety comm center’s, up to 38 percent for one county. The story refers to a 2004 study commissioned by APCO that found a staffing crisis among centers nationwide, and points out the various problems that understaffing creates. Read the story and compare the turn-over rates here.
Kudos to Westmoreland County (Penn.) dispatcher Bob Mayr, who helped a man deliver his son over the phone. The 13-year veteran said the father was initially nervous, but quickly calmed down. Read the story here.
A heart attack victim in Wyoming (Mich.) died after he collapsed on the street, and dispatchers dialed phone numbers trying to reach firefighters and EMS crews. A story in the Grand Rapids Press details the complex interactions between the various comm centers, some which handle police and not fire, and some both. Coincidentally, the Grand Rapids citiy commission was scheduled to vote on a plan to join a central Kent County public safety comm center on the same day the story appeared. Read the story and make sense of the calls here.
For reasons that police still can’t explain, a Fremont (Calif.) man struck and killed a pedestrian in his home town, and then drove his Honda Pilot SUV 35 miles to San Francisco and began mowing down pedestrians with his vehicle. Victims and witnesses began dialing 911 for help, even as the suspect made U-turns and returned to the scene to plow into those who had rushed into the street to help. Now the San Francisco Police Department has released 25 minutes of logging recorder tapes of the 911 calls, which show how the dispatchers has to piece together the action from 13 different locations and scores of callers. Listen to the tapes (mp3) here, and read about the incident here.
APCO issued a statement on the Sprint/Nextel’s suggestion to freeze the 800 MHz rebanding timetable for two years to allow public safety agencies to complete the planning process for the rebanding. The group said it was, “very disappointed by Sprint Nextel’s presumption that public safety communications entities are not ready to move forward with the rebanding process,” and that there is “no apparent rationale” why a freeze would be of benefit. The group did say it would consider “minor adjustments if absolutely necessary to ensure safe and effective rebanding.” Check the group’s Web site for more.
QuadCom (Elgin, Ill.) dispatchers have the benefit of a $284,000 federal DOJ grant through Elgin Community College, which used some of the money to purchase and install a simulated comm center for more advanced training. The equipmenti includes Dell desktop computers and an internal telephone system that allows students to don headsets and have their excercises recorded for later review. Read more about the setup here.
Hopkins County (Tex.) dispatchers are suffering through bouts with a 911 system that drops calls and doesn’t display ANI/ALI information. The problem is intermittent, and seems to be linked to the weather–the more rain and moisture, the more problems. The problem also occurs more frequently at night. Verizon technicians are working to track down the actual problem and stamp it out.
St. Tammany Parish (La.) Sheriff’s dispatcher Angela Hassert handled a 911 call from a man who reported his wife missing, but who was later arrested for murder. Hassert testified that she hung believing that something was “very odd” about the man’s demeanor. The defense attorney raised the question of Hassert’s memory of the incident–which occurred in 1996. Read the full story here.
South Walton Fire District (Fla.) dispatcher Tamika Reid was a contestant on the syndicated TV show “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” on Wedesday, and won $1,000 after missing the $16,000 question. The 30-year old correctly answered: “Maria “Money Honey” Bartiromo was the first journalist to provide live daily reports from what storied New York locale? (Stock Exchange Floor), used “Phone A Friend” to answer, “Which of these destinations is also known as the “Holy See”? (Vatican City), and used “50-50″ on “When a custom wedding dress is being fitted, the mock-up dress is commonly made out of what material?” The choices narrowed from rayon, chenille, damask and muslin to chenille/muslin. Tamika chose chenille…and the answer was muslin. Vew a photo of her appearance here.
Students have returned to college, and the Kent State University (Ohio) newspaper has run a profile of their police department’s comm center, including dispatcher Melissa Call, who refers to officers as “her officers.” Read the entire story here.
Thanks to NENA for the heads-up: the FCC is re-organizing its public safety-related operations into a separate Bureau with the title, “Public Safety and Homeland Security.” FCC Chair Kevin Martin told Congress that the new Bureau will be operational by Sept. 26th, and that all 911-related issues will be shifted to the new group.
Abbotsford (BC, Canada) police dispatcher Tina Squire will receive the group’s Public Safety Communicator award during the joint APCO-NENA conference Oct. 1-4. She worked for the RCMP as a dispatcher and then joined Abbotsford, in the Vancouver area two years ago. “Tina was selected based on her outstanding skills as an emergency dispatcher over many years, including some very complicated calls such as the tanker spill in 2005 and a kidnapping earlier this year,” said police chief Ian Mackenzie.
The long-running court case of Jack Gerritsen is over–the 70 year-old has been sentenced to seven years in prison on federal charges of interfering with radio communications. The Amateur radio operator was found guilty last year of broadcasting on Coast Guard, military, law enforcement and other public safety frequencies in the Southern California region over a four-year period. The transmissions included long political rants and obscenities. Gerritsen served 38 months on a previous similar conviction, but soon began resuming his pirate broadcasts when he was released in 2003.
A section of roof at the Scott City (Mo.) police station collapsed, drenching the department’s radio base station with water and knocking it out of service. Some time during the night a rusted portion of the roof support gave way, probably caused by air conditioner run-off. That same water flowed down onto the radio gear, police chief Don Cobb reported. A back-up radio has limited range, so the Scott County E911 Center is helping with some radio dispatching.