MCFRS News Release

Everyday Heroes

National Telecommunications Week
April 9 – 15, 2006

The men and women of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service in conjunction with the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International will recognize April 9 -15, 2006 as National Public Safety Telecommunications Week. This week is dedicated to all the nation’s public safety telecommunication personnel who aid in providing 9-1-1, fire-rescue emergency and police assistance to citizens everywhere.

Public safety communications centers throughout the nation will recognize this week, as a way of saying ''thanks'' to their local community public safety Telecommunicators.

Montgomery County operates out of a state-of-the-art emergency communication facility bringing fire-rescue, police, 9-1-1 and the County’s traffic management center together along with a new and expanded emergency operations center. Planning for the approximately $150 million project which included facility build-out, communication equipment and associated technology was seven years in the making.

The new system includes an 800 mhz digital duplex radio network, mobile data computers, mapping, global positioning systems and computer-aided dispatch. Over 150 public safety personnel, including fire and police dispatchers and 911 call takers are assigned to support the combined emergency operations at the new location.

About seventeen years ago on September 11, 1985, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Communications personnel moved into a “modern” and updated Emergency Communications Center (ECC) in Rockville, combining fire, rescue, police and 911 operations in the same facility. Prior to that move, since 1962, calls had been dispatched from an elaborate underground Emergency Operating Center that was located under the present Council Office Building, also in Rockville. Now the Public Safety Communications Center for Montgomery County is co-located in a sophisticated high-tech facility in Gaithersburg.

Last year Montgomery County Fire and Rescue telecommunications personnel dispatched over 100,000 calls for emergency service, including nearly 350,000 emergency fire and rescue unit responses. Every day a life is saved.

The current Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Emergency Communications Center (ECC) facility is staffed by nearly fifty career uniformed personnel. All dispatchers are Firefighter/Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) certified, including several with Paramedic certification. All fire and rescue personnel assigned to the ECC are emergency medical dispatch (EMD) certified. Emergency Operations personnel are supported by several administrative staff. This year they are averaging over three hundred and fifty (350) emergency dispatches, about four hundred and twenty-five (425) 9-1-1 calls and nearly fifteen hundred (1500) administrative calls per day.

Introduced to Congress by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) International in 1991, National Public Safety Telecommunications Week is the second full week of April of each year.

Every day, millions of people depend on the skill, expertise and commitment of the men and women who work in public safety telecommunications. These individuals help save countless lives by responding to emergency calls, dispatching emergency professionals and equipment and providing moral support to citizens in distress.

By officially recognizing these public safety telecommunications professionals, the term ''9-1-1'' is often associated with rapid emergency response, poise under pressure, aid and compassion in times of distress and critical decision-making within seconds. Many people don't stop to think about these seemingly nameless, faceless individuals until they experience actual emergencies in many instances involving life and death.