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TMCNet:  County 911 center expansion nears completion [Cumberland Times News, Md.]

[January 22, 2010]

County 911 center expansion nears completion [Cumberland Times News, Md.]

(Cumberland Times-News (MD) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Jan. 22--PREVIOUS COVERAGE: SEPTEMBER 2 -- 911 move will last 2 months CUMBERLAND -- An expansion project that the Allegany County 911 dispatch center at Constitution Park is nearing completion.

The estimated $5 million project is funded in part through a Federal Railroad Administration grant of $2 million plus $860,000 of county funding for a new computer-aided dispatch system and enhanced radio consoles that allows for an intregrated communications system.

Dick DeVore, acting chief of the Joint Communciations Division, told all three county commissioners on Friday during a public work session that there is no better time to be a county dispatcher.

For the first time, the updated 911 center will meet standards set by the National Fire Protection Association.

"This center has really given us the opportunity to do some really unique things," DeVore said. "Many facilities rely on copper. Now, we're bed fed by fiber (and) fiberoptics. That greatly reduces our potential for lightning strikes." Dispatchers now have access to ergonomic furniture including elevated keyboard and monitor shelves.

"The dispatchers will have windows to the outside world," DeVore said. "That's something they've never had before. It's certainly going to be a morale booster. They've literally worked in a hole in the ground for 20-some years." The improvements are not being made solely to benefit the employees. New technology, including a $1 million investment into a mapping program, allows emergency calls for assistance from landline phone and cellphones to be immediately pinpointed on an aerial map.

DeVore said the advantages of the new system were recently put on display with a lost hiker called 911 in the eastern end of Allegany County. The person had injured himself. With aerial mapping and plotting capabilities, first-responders were directed to the scene in a short amount of time.

"It's showing the technology is starting to pay dividends," DeVore said.

Access to the facilitym, which will be shared with the Federal Railroad Administration, is heavily screened. Several security cameras are or will soon be mounted and entry will be only be gate access.

DeVore said most of the construction has been completed and the new technological equipment is now being installed. The county's 24 dispatchers could return from the temporary Mexico Farms location, which will serve as a full-time backup center, in about six weeks.

In September, DeVore originally the move to that location was to last about two months.

Contact Kevin Spradlin at kspradlin@times-news.com.

To see more of the Cumberland Times News or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.times-news.com/.

Copyright (c) 2010, Cumberland Times News, Md.

Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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