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Collier County 911 To Mark 40th Anniversary

Post Date:02/08/2018 1:30 PM
When Lt. Nelson Shadrick started out as a dispatcher for the Collier County Sheriff’s Office in 1976, the call center was a small room with a desk, push-button telephone and an old-style radio microphone.

The dispatcher on duty didn’t know if a call was an emergency until they answered the phone. 

“Our duties primarily consisted of taking telephone calls and dispatching deputies to calls,” Lt. Shadrick recalled. “If we dispatched a complaint or the deputy checked out with a self-initiated incident, we would fill out a complaint card by hand.”

The complaint card would then be placed on a conveyor belt and the dispatcher would push a button that would send it to the desk lieutenant for review.
In between calls, dispatchers assisted in the jail, located just outside the door.

“We helped book in arrestees and on occasion helped wrestle with the ones that did not feel like cooperating,” recalled Lt. Shadrick, who now supervises the agency’s Training Bureau.

On Feb. 14, 1978, the first 911 call was made in Collier County, forever changing the way CCSO dispatchers did their jobs and local emergency outcomes for the better. 

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the countywide 911 system, the Collier County Board of County Commissioners will issue a proclamation designating Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, as “Collier County 911 Appreciation Day.” 

CCSO will mark the occasion by opening the 911 dispatch center to the community that day. The public is invited to tour the center, located in the Collier County Emergency Services Center, 8075 Lely Cultural Parkway, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Light refreshments will be served. There is no need to make reservations or call in advance.   

As Collier County has grown, so has the 911 call volume. When the system debuted in Collier, dispatchers received an average of 25 calls for assistance per day. By 1994, 171 calls per day were coming in. By 2007, an average of 411 people were calling 911 in Collier County each day. And by 2016, 429 calls a day were coming in.

“Our 911 center and the dedicated professionals who work there are critical to our ability to keep our residents and visitors safe,” said Sheriff Kevin Rambosk. “Our 911 center and our 911 technological capabilities have grown along with our community over the years and we will continue to embrace 911 technology as we move forward.”

The CCSO Communications Center fielded a record number of telephone calls after Hurricane Irma. Calls to the center more than tripled in the days after the storm. Dispatchers received a total of 5,122 calls the day after the storm made landfall in Collier County on Sept. 10, 2017. That’s a 500 percent increase over the nearly 1,000 calls the center receives on a typical day. 

Technology and equipment used in Collier County 911 has changed throughout the years. 

When the first calls were made, no identifying information was transmitted with the call. This sometimes made it very difficult for dispatchers to determine where to send help in emergencies. Today, more than 100 911 professionals work out of an enhanced communications center. Location information and coordinates automatically appear on the dispatcher’s screen during 911 calls. A video wall mounted in front of the room displays live camera feeds, enabling dispatchers to see what is happening at a scene and relay important details to public safety units. 

Highlights in recent years include:

* CAD upgrade. After three years of planning and preparation, CCSO replaced its 17-year-old computer-aided dispatch on Jan. 26, 2016, making it the most ambitious system upgrade in the agency’s history. 

The upgrade now gives all Collier County EMS, all of the fire departments and the Naples and Marco Island police departments in-vehicle access to CAD, providing first responders with live updates to incidents as captured at the CCSO 911 center. Enhanced 911 maps provide supplemental data such as floor plans, hazardous materials, hydrant locations and shortest-distance routing. 

The upgrade was part of Sheriff Kevin Rambosk’s vision of a Next Generation Communications System, a group of initiatives being implemented to enhance public safety. These initiatives have shortened response times to calls for service by streamlining the communications process, providing closest unit response and agency-to-agency coordination, and enhancing resource allocation.

* Pulse Point. On Nov. 15, 2016, CCSO became the first public safety agency in Southwest Florida to implement Pulse Point. The smartphone app alerts citizen responders of cardiac arrests in public places. 

* Text to 911. On June 14, 2014, CCSO became the first public safety agency in Florida to implement text-to-911 service from cellular telephones.

* Smart911. 
Implemented in July 2012, this service gives citizens in Collier County the ability to create a personal safety profile that automatically displays to dispatchers during an emergency.

Click here to watch a video about the 40th anniversary of 911 in Collier County.