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New dispatch center, new number

Effective immediately, Archuleta County Combined Dispatch has a new non-emergency number for police, fire and ambulance related calls.

The new number is 731-2160. The old number, 264-2131, will be forwarded until about Sept. 1.

The change in number is part of an ACCD move from a center in the Archuleta County Sheriff’s Office to a new, state-of-the-art distpatch center located on the west side of Pagosa Springs.

ACCD went “live” at the new center early July 13.

The new center is next-generation ready and uses VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol), according to Dispatch Manager Carl Nevitt, meaning as new technologies become available, such as those that accept cell phone photos of accidents and incidents, the center will be ready to adopt that technology.

While ready for the newest technology, the center’s new equipment already allows for additional functions, Nevitt said, such as cell phone locators for capable cell phones (cell phone locations come up on a map with the latitude and longitude if the cell phone has the technology), and position-specific identifiers for officers.

The 911 system also now automatially brings up a call for service with 911 calls, including the name and address for landlines.

Despite the technological advancement from old to new equipment, Nevitt said the new equipment is fully implemeted and the staff is competent with it.

“The learning curve is so shallow on it,” Nevitt said, adding that one of the vendors provided on-site training for dispatchers.

Nevitt said staff at a number of other dispatch centers have already contacted ACCD, expressing interest in seeing the new center.

The systems, as with much of technology, still have bugs, which Nevitt said are being worked out.

For example, Nevitt said the mapping is not completely accurate (but, he added, it is always the job of the dispatcher to verify names and locations) and some microphone and echo issues are being remedied.

The push for a new dispatch center came last year as the current dispatch systems — a 911 call system, a computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system, and a radio network — began experiencing delays and breakdowns on a regular basis.

The system also lacked the capability to record locations from cellular callers, which, in 2010, were estimated to be the source of 70 percent of all calls to the dispatch center.

So, in 2010, the ACCD board approached its partner agencies (Archuleta County, Upper San Juan Health Service District, Pagosa Fire Protection District and the Town of Pagosa Springs), as well as the public, for support for an increase of the 911 surcharge from 70 cents per subscriber line per month to $1.25 for phones based in Archuleta County — both cellular and landlines.

The increase, which was ultimately approved by the Public Utilities Commission and put into effect on Jan. 1, 2011, is expected to yield ACCD approximately an extra $100,000 per year.

The increase also gave the center the needed funds to finance purchase of new equipment, originally estimated to cost just under $600,000, not including ongoing maintenance contracts.

Nevitt said the project has stayed at or under budget, but added a question he said he feels should be kept in mind.

“The community needs to ask themselves, ‘At what point is public safety important?’” Nevitt asked.

The new center was constructed under the direction of three different managers — former Dispatch Manager Jay English, ACSO Director of Emergency Management Drew Petersen and Nevitt.

“Drew Petersen deserves a lot of credit,” Nevitt said, adding that Petersen did an excellent job as project manager.

Nevitt said the move was a group effort beyond the project oversight, as well, with other dispatch staff putting in long hours to move the center’s non-computerized information to the new center (20 years’ worth).

randi@pagosasun.com

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