FORT WAYNE – City-county dispatchers who are now crammed into a basement room of the Rousseau Centre are poised to move in three weeks to the sixth floor, where brand-new digs await them.
About 75 dispatchers and support staffers got a sneak preview of the new Allen County-Fort Wayne 911 call center, and many brought their families with them, Executive Director Tim Lee said Tuesday during a separate tour for the media.
Employees working in the 5,600-square-foot section of the basement will report to the new center Feb. 4.
One of the unique features of the new call center is that the staff helped design the 8,400-square-foot dispatch room.
Anytime departments are consolidated, there is a lot of animosity and strife, and we tried to counter that by getting everyone involved in the design, Lee said.
Besides offering spectacular views through the shatter-resistant, wall-to-wall windows, the emergency center offers 25 dispatching stations with room for expansion.
Standard staffing is about 13 to 15 dispatchers, but we now have the ability to ramp up if necessary, Lee said.
In addition, if other county centers such as New Haven or the Three Rivers Ambulance Authority have a system failure, a dispatching station could be set up with locale-specific coordinates in a matter of minutes, Lee said.
Gone also is the separation of city and county police and fire dispatching.
All city and county police and fire functions are located adjacently in the large open room, eliminating the past practice of dispatchers having to call from one room to another to communicate with each other.
The center’s cost – not including radios – came in at just under $1.3 million, surprisingly low considering that the state-of-the-art phone system alone was originally quoted at $2.3 million, Lee said.
Costs were cut by using a county-owned building and by using the city’s radio shop, making it unnecessary to hire subcontractors, Lee said.
Vendors who worked with us included Frontier, INdigital Telecom and Motorola, he said.
Lee and Mike Reichard, supervisor of the radio shop, served as project managers, eliminating the expense of hiring others. Much of the renovation was done by Allen County maintenance personnel, who were phenomenal, Lee said.
All cables and wiring are concealed beneath the wood flooring.
There is 76,000 feet of networking cables alone, Lee said. The flooring was $80,000, and it would have cost us $2,000 to have it installed, but the county did it instead.
Information on weather updates and dispatching records is also immediately available to the entire staff.
This is by far one of the most technologically advanced systems in the state, Lee said.
Lee will not be here when the center opens. He resigned Friday to become the new director of the Consolidated Dispatch Agency for the city of Tallahassee and Leon County, Fla.