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New facility houses region's dispatchers
by Jill Lufrano
Jul 06, 2012 | 2438 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo by Dan McGee - Washoe County dispatcher Amber Poshusta was busy Monday coordinating plans for Care Flight evacuating a patient from Incline Village to Reno. The screens at her station help keep track of the operation while she talks with both the EMTS and Care Flight.
Tribune photo by Dan McGee - Washoe County dispatcher Amber Poshusta was busy Monday coordinating plans for Care Flight evacuating a patient from Incline Village to Reno. The screens at her station help keep track of the operation while she talks with both the EMTS and Care Flight.
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RENO — The multi-story building on Spectrum Way looks like any other office complex upon approaching the unassuming premises. Inside, a handful of some of the most vital communication operators are busy handling everything from life-threatening emergencies to lost animal calls.

“Our dispatch service professionals epitomize the word ‘teamwork.’ They play an extremely important role in the overall commitment to the safety and security of our entire community,” said Washoe County Sheriff Mike Haley.

Members of the media were guided through the center this week for a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes for Washoe County and the City of Reno to manage emergency communications for their citizens. The floor of the communications center is filled with computer screens, manned by operators who constantly monitor fire situations, weather reports, regional maps, records, law enforcement and fire dialogue as well as incoming residential calls.

The center, officially called the Emergency Communications Center, or ECOMM, was recently installed into the complex for Washoe County and Reno, leaving space on the floor for Truckee Meadows Fire Protection District dispatchers to move in their own dispatchers in one corner.

Enough space is left on the floor for additional communications operators in the future, in the event of additional hiring or if the City of Sparks decided to move into the unified center, for instance.

For years, Washoe County ran its dispatch center in Incline Village. Now, with the co-location with Reno, communications are instantly much easier and faster for regional citizens, Haley said.

“The staff of professionals at the Emergency Communications Center, working as a Division of the Reno Information and Technology Department, also provides dispatch services for the public safety providers at the Reno Police Department and Reno Fire Department,” said Michele Anderson, spokeswoman for the City of Reno. “Reno ECOMM also contracts dispatching services for the Washoe County Sheriff’s office, University of Nevada-Reno Police, Truckee Meadows Community College Police, Sierra Fire Protection District, the Reno Marshals Office, and Washoe County Alternative Sentencing.”

The Regional Emergency Communications Center is the largest public safety communications center in northern Nevada, and the primary link to public safety services in Reno and Washoe County. The center handles calls ranging from structure and wildland fires, to burglaries in progress, medical calls, domestic disputes, missing juveniles and many other incidents, Anderson said.

“Washoe County, Reno, and Sparks recognize the need to have a single, permanently established, ready-to-operate Regional EOC (Emergency Operations Center) location to perform individual and/or integrated EOC response services in support of jurisdictional emergencies or larger regional emergencies and disasters involving two or more jurisdictions,” according to Washoe County’s website.

The goal of the REOC is to provide a single, secure and safe location for the participating agencies to support public safety, field incident commanders, determine situational status, coordinate and collaborate response strategies and activities, make critical decisions and initiate policy level support for critical decisions when needed during emergency and disaster situations, according to Washoe County.

The secure facility offers tours to the public. To visit, call 775-337-5898.
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