On May 3, Prince George’s County opened their new 9-1-1 Emergency Communication Center. The state-of-the-art Bowie facility took 11 years to plan and build. From the Sentinel:
The 40,000 square foot facility cost $ 35,625,008 to build and furnish, according to Brain R. Moe, director of Prince George’s County Homeland Security.
Part of the funding came from Homeland Security Grants and Emergency Number System Board grants the county applied for two years ago in the amount of $ 5,612,883. The construction was also funded by the state and local 911 fees.
Prince George’s County has also spent about $76 million on a new 700 MHz radio system for the county’s fire, police and sheriff’s departments.
“The new system will provide us with more fire, EMS and police frequencies,” said Wayne McBride, deputy director of Homeland Security. “It will also allow us to dispatch the closest police, fire or EMS unit to the scene of an incident.”
The center will operate with 70 911 call takers assigned to four primary 12- hour shifts and four 10-hour power shifts along with 52 law enforcement dispatchers and 24 fire/EMS dispatchers assigned to four shifts. All call takers and dispatchers have received training according to COMAR regulations, along with 2,000 hours of public safety training and CPR certification.
According to Charlynn Flaherty, director of Public Safety Communication, the center will have the only on-site training room for operators and dispatchers. Other county emergency call centers provide off-site training for new staff.
McBride said dispatchers will be able “to view traffic cameras throughout the county and on the Wilson Bridge. This will provide dispatchers with real time information regarding ongoing incidents.”
The center will also have such staff amenities as a fully-equipped kitchen for preparing staff meals (to prevent the need for staff to go off-site for meals), staff lounge areas for breaks, and a bunk space for emergencies that might cause staff to stay overnight.
According to consultants, there may be a need for a new center in 2022 due to the county growing so fast.