Remodeled emergency dispatch center, new radio system showcased

Lori Alexander, deputy director of Douglas County Emergency Communications describes the new system to Duane Filkis, the Kanwaka fire chief, and volunteer firefighter Makayla White. A remodeled center and radio system was unveiled to the public on Wednesday.

One of the first changes dispatchers will feel after settling into the Douglas County Emergency Communications’ remodeled $7 million center will be the chairs.

The thickly cushioned seats sat before each of the 10 new dispatch consoles during an open house for the remodeled center — and new radio system — at an open house Wednesday.

“They’re sat in 24/7, so we’ve got to get something more durable,” said Lori Alexander, deputy director of emergency communications.

Later this month, the remodeled center and updated radio system will become fully operational, ending a year in which dispatchers have been operating out of a temporary location. The new radio system, which replaces a 15-year-old system, will allow dispatchers and public safety officials to more smoothly communicate with neighboring agencies. Before, if emergency dispatchers needed to communicate with neighboring agencies, dispatchers here would first need to call the other agencies’ dispatchers to relay information.

“The need to communicate in a fashion of interoperability has grown because of large-scale incidents,” Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical Chief Mark Bradford said Wednesday. “We didn’t really have a method to do that before.”

Paid for with funds provided by both the city and county, the project also features an upgrade of the county’s computer-aided dispatch system in August.