Dispatchers working hard to improve 911 services
By Pat Maurer
“I want to thank the citizens of Clare County for continuing to trust in this dispatch center to support them and help provide for their security,” said Dispatch Supervisor Tom Brubaker. “Our job is making sure the community is safe. We want to make improvements that are a benefit to them.”
“We are trying to improve our operations and rectify some problems we have had in previous years,” he said.
With that in mind, Brubaker said they have developed a new survey on www.clareco.net/911. “The public is encouraged to go to the site and fill out the form and ‘rate us’ on our services through 911. Whether it is for a job well done or a complaint, we want to hear about it.”
Brubaker has been on the job since last February, and officially since May, and has been a dispatcher with 911 since 2002.
One of the newest things available for the community he said is NIXLE. “There is a link at clareco.net website and anyone in the county can sign up – it’s free – and get messages about weather conditions, road closures, emergencies, and during the hot summer months, receive notification of ‘cooling houses’ which are available for seniors in the area.”
He said there are currently 184 people who have signed up for the new notification program.
Their website also has a Neighborhood Watch Sheet that can be filled out with a person’s house description, cross streets or anything that would help an emergency vehicle find a home.
The website also has information about the department and staff, a list of agencies they serve, information on understanding 911, options, dos and don’ts, advisory board members, contact information and even a Clare County Wrecker Service Complaint form.
They are also on Facebook at facebook.com/ClareCountyCentralDispatch.
Something new mandated by the Federal government by August of 2015 is the “Next Generation 911 or NG911.” The new program will allow a person to send text messages and even stream videos from their cell phones.
The Intrado Viper 911 system, with GIS (Geographic Information System) capability, has been in use since August of 2012. “The old version we had didn’t have that,” Brubaker said. “No when a call comes in we can pinpoint the location to within 250 meters (750 feet).
Working with Brubaker are eight full-time dispatchers for year-round 24/7 coverage. He said two new part-time dispatchers are finishing up some of their training now.
Each dispatcher completes 40 hours of schooling and four months of on-the-job training. “We are currently undermanned, but we are working on that,” he said. Dispatchers currently work on rotating 12 hour shifts which allow one day off every weekend, although it is not the same day each time.
Brubaker said the department also answers calls for deputies, State Police and Clare City Police. “We answered more than 41,000 calls last year,” he said. “There were 9,640 911 calls and about 3,000 of those were actual emergencies.” He added, “People call 911 for a lot of reasons including barking dogs. That is one of the most common non-emergency calls we get.”
He said that other than the new part-time dispatchers, the lowest seniority there is six years and the longest is 14 years.
Their Mission Statement is: “To serve as The Vital Link between citizens and public safety agencies, by providing professional and quality service thereby enhancing the safety of the people in Clare County. Our daily goal is to understand the unique needs of each call and deploy the appropriate response in a timely fashion. We will be lifelong learners, accepting our responsibilities, challenges and necessary changes with a willing attitude as required by our profession.”
Brewbaker said, “It is a tough job for our people, but they do it because they like helping people.”