Dispatchers Advocate Teaching Children How and When to
||When an emergency arises, call 9-1-1 immediately. Notify your
neighborhood gate guard later, and don't assume someone else has called
for help. Emergency responders can't help you, if 9-1-1 is not
||When calling 9-1-1, expect to answer questions. But remember, while
you give additional information, dispatchers have already sent emergency
crews your way.
||Write your telephone number, numeric address and brief directions to
your house on a notepad and keep a notepad next to every phone in the
house. This may sound silly, but during an emergency situation, you may
panic and forget basic information.
||Make sure your house number is visible from the road.
History of 9-1-1 In Marion
"Text me," "IM me" and "email me" are now phrases more
common than "call me." To the technology generation,
payphones are antiques, and even some five-year-olds
can't imagine life without their cell phones. But just
20 years ago, these gadgets and more important life
saving technology didn't exist.
9-1-1 was first initiated in Marion County in 1989, and
law enforcement dispatched for fire rescue. But in 1996,
MCFR formed its own dispatching team
In 2001 and 2003 respectively, Marion County also became
one of the first counties in Florida to become what's
known as "Phase I" and "Phase II" Enhanced 9-1-1
This technology enables dispatchers to more precisely
track the longitude and latitude of a 9-1-1 caller who
is using a cell phone. Previously this was not possible,
especially if a caller could not speak or did not know
his or her location.
MCFR also has what's called automatic vehicle locators
for advanced life support emergency vehicles. These
locators enable dispatchers to more precisely determine
the exact location of crews and send the closest unit to
On October 1, 2008, as part of the ambulance service
transition, dispatch was re-organized under the Public
Safety Communications Department, which Karl Oltz
Now, the Marion County Public Safety Communications
Department dispatches both fire rescue and emergency
medical transport services to approximately 170
emergency calls a day.
To prepare for this transition, 13 fire rescue
dispatchers and 13 ambulance service dispatchers united,
logging more than 1,200 training hours to ensure a
When you call 9-1-1, the operator will calmly say
"9-1-1, what is your emergency?" Within 60 seconds, the
information you give is relayed to a dispatcher who
sends emergency crews your way. Dispatchers are
often the unnoticed heroes; but their work is hardly
meaningless. They work 12 hour shifts and dispatch crews
to an average of 170 emergencies everyday, bringing new
meaning to multi-tasking and quick-thinking. They are
also Emergency Medical Dispatchers trained to give
life-saving information like CPR instructions over the
- Dispatch the closest, available unit to all emergencies.
- Collect and relay life-saving information to emergency crews
in the field
- Anticipate the needs of the 9-1-1 caller and communicate
those needs to crews in the field
- Update crews as more information becomes available
- Track 29 fire stations, dozens of firefighters and more than
two dozen ambulances
- Monitor when firefighters go into burning buildings and
when they come out
- Keep official times of emergency calls
- Call other agencies for help
800 Megahertz Offers Help
Marion County Commissioners approved the purchase of the
$12.5 million 800 megahertz system in July of 2005. An estimated
$5.7 million of county coffers paid for the system's
infrastructure, and public safety agencies shared the remaining
cost of the radios.
The Marion County Sheriff's Office and Marion County Fire Rescue
started using the new system in February of 2007, six weeks
ahead of schedule.
This technology offers expanded coverage, 20 frequencies,
improved reception and increased security whereas the previous
VHF/UHF system used outdated technology, offered only one
frequency and hit dead-spots throughout the county.
The 800 megahertz system also offers what's called
"interoperability." This enables crews from local, state and
federal agencies to simultaneously communicate using one shared
This is especially important during large-scale disasters
such as a hurricane when various public safety agencies need to
coordinate response efforts along with road and debris removal
crews, strike teams and utility workers.
Once hired, dispatchers undergo four solid months of intense
training that is broken into four phases and includes 120
hours of classroom instruction.