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Trying to Reach 911

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.

Hit-and-Run Tapes Released

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 on 800 MHz Freeze

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.

Grant for Simulator

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.

Glitchy 911 System

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.

Dispatcher Testifies

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.

Dispatcher on Quiz Show

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.

University Dispatch Story

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.

FCC Re-Org

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.

Canada APCO Award

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.

Radio Jammer Sentenced

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.

Roof Collapse Hits Radio

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.

Dispatcher Group Forming

A group of trainers who have been key in developing the concept of on-scene incident dispatching has formed a national group to recommend standards of certification, qualification, and training. The National Incident Dispatcher Association (NIDA) offers three levels of members, with dues waived for the first 90 days. The concept of dispatchers working on-scene began about 13 years ago, and many local agencies have developed teams of incident dispatchers for regional incidents. Hurricane Katrina sparked interest in mutual aid for dispatching and the incident dispatching concept. Find more information at the association’s Web site here.

APCO Launches VoIP Project

APCO has launched an official project to deal with the issues of VoIP and what it calls, “emerging technology location delivery challenges.” The project is numbered 41 among the associations active projects, and will be a part of its Project LOCATE. According to a press release, Project 41 will, “develop partnerships with vendors and service providers to improve the location information provided, provide public education to manage the expectations of consumers, and create an effective practice guide to include technical and operational alternatives for public safety answering point (PSAP) response.” Find more information here.

Another Shift Idea

Thanks to Sandie for submitting her county comm center’s shift schedule, which takes the place of 12-hour shifts, or their former 8-hour, 6-on/2-off schedule. The advantage is that it allows weekends off every other week, and it’s a longer weekend, too. Read the description and download the spreadsheet here.