For those of you who don’t know me I am Dianne Fuller. I currently hold the position of 911 Supervisor. I was promoted to 911 Supervisor in May of 2004. Prior to being promoted I was a Shift Leader from 1997 thru 2004. Before that I was a dispatcher from 1990-1997.
When I first started at the 911 Center in May of 1990 it was located in the old jail which is behind the Courthouse on Chancery Lane and Center St. We had a very small room which also had a small bathroom in the corner. We had to be buzzed in by the jail guards. Then we went thru the kitchen to get to the radio room. The operator already on duty had to unlock the door and once you were inside it was locked again. You never had to leave the room for anything. There was a refrigerator and microwave in the room to use for meals you brought with you. The inmates were on the other side of the wall on the one side and the kitchen was on the other side. The other side had windows with bars on them that looked at the back of the courthouse. It was a very depressing atmosphere. Essentially you were in jail too and had never committed a crime.
There was one dispatcher on duty at all times. If you had to use the bathroom you ran around the corner of the desk into the bathroom. You had to leave the door open so you could hear the radios. You did your business as fast as you could to get back out to answer the phones and radios. Praying the whole time that no one called you!
The phone was a push button that you dialed a seven digit number for everyone you needed to talk to. We had no speed dials. There was no 911. If you had an emergency you dialed 724-2545. We answered County Control. There was no screen that popped up on the computer giving us the name, number and address of the caller. We would gather the information and go to the maps to determine where the caller was and dispatch the department that covered that area. There were many departments that we were unable to dispatch and had to call either another agency or a private citizen to dispatch.
We had 3 low band frequencies which were Fire 1 33.98, Fire 2 33.96 which was called Tac 2. The other low band frequency was police which was 45.10. We also had Med 9, Med 6 and Med 10 East. We also had Meadville Fire which was Department 16’s frequency.
County geography was extremely important. There was no CAD to recommend a department for dispatch. Therefore you had to know coverage areas and geography.
Late in 1991 we moved to the current location in the Courthouse. We had more room and administrative offices in the same area. We had secure doors and didn’t have to deal with being let in by the jail guards or inmates. We had a small kitchen area with space to store items that were used on a daily basis.
At that time we also added a second dispatcher on duty at all times. This was due to an increase in call volume.
In 1993 we upgraded the old console with two new Motorola Centracom Series II furniture style Consoles. They were state of the art technology and very impressive with the sheer size of them. They had lots of bright lights to let us know which frequency we were talking on or listening to. This was a huge advancement that also allowed us to talk on many channels at the same time which helped when we began our switch from low band to the current UHF channels. At that time the initial 911 addressing and mapping project was going on. Trying to address all the structures in Crawford County was quite a project. Once the addressing was completed we then upgraded our phone equipment with computerized call taking equipment, giving us the ability to receive the caller’s phone number and address when they dialed 911.
In 2002 we also added InterAct CAD system to our center. The enabled the phone equipment to send information over to the CAD and computerize all our dispatch records. We no longer had incident cards that we recorded information on.
Around the same time we became Phase 2 compliant which means that we could see the location of cellular calls that were coming into the 911 Center on a computerized map. There was a huge amount of technology and testing that went into making this project a success.
Since then there have been various upgrades to all of our equipment. Including new radio consoles that are all computerized and take up a lot less space than the old radio consoles.
Currently we still have many projects going on which will be the topic of future articles. In looking back over the past 22 years since I started it amazes me how far technology has come. How advanced our small 911 Center has become and the increase in call volume that the dispatchers handle