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Wayne celebrates new, updated 911 center

Sep. 11, 2013 @ 11:24 PM

WAYNE -- When someone calls 911 in Wayne County, they now can do so with confidence knowing the voice on the call's other end is within reach of the latest technology.

It is all housed inside of Wayne County's $3-million emergency communications and dispatch center. The facility is located within walking distance of the Wayne County Courthouse, just off W.Va. 152 in downtown Wayne.

The 6,800-square feet building is a tremendous upgrade from its former home -- a converted, three-bay ambulance garage with 2,000-square-feet. Willis said that facility did not have space enough for new, state-mandated Emergency Medical Dispatching flip charts, much less eight computer screens, servers and other hardware needed to meet today's standards.

Wayne County 911 started operations from the new center in December 2012. Wednesday provided an opportunity to showcase the facility to the public, all while celebrating the agency's 16th anniversary.

Willis called it a dream come true. Since 2005, he and other administrators had toured every dispatch center they heard coming online. His desire was to question officials from those centers, all while taking notes and learning from their experiences.

Wednesday was Willis' turn to show off his facility to others.

"All I can say is wow," he said. "I never dreamed we'd be here, but it's true."

The building consists of three main components. Those are the dispatch room, an emergency operations center and an equipment room. The dispatch room is the facility's nerve center, where two dispatchers per shift field calls and dispatch information to police, fire and ambulance crews within seconds.

Jamie Drake estimates those dispatchers answered 35,000 calls in 2012. She said the new center is a monumental upgrade in technology and capability. It features four consoles, each with eight computer monitors providing dispatchers with the caller's pinpointed location.

"It's unreal," she said. "It means better service. We've got it now to where we can put the 911 address into the system, and it shows us exactly where people are. We don't have to spend the extra time getting more detailed directions."

Willis said the new facility also provides consistency with heating and cooling, as opposed to the extreme heat and chill of the old building. That is an important aspect not only for comfort, but also to ensure the equipment's operations.

Willis vowed Wednesday's celebration is not an ending point. He said the building was built for 20 years of expansion, and he promised technology updates as needed to provide the best of service to Wayne County.

Follow Curtis Johnson at Facebook.com/curtisjohnsonHD and via Twitter @curtisjohnsonHD.

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