St. Louis County Unveils New 911 Dispatch Center

Duluth, Minn. — The new 911 Emergency Communications Center in St. Louis County has 14 working stations that support 180 user agencies – police, fire and EMS.

On an average year, dispatchers answer 205,000 calls throughout the county.

The new state-of-the-art took a year of planning, and the actual switchover took about five months.  During that time, the dispatch center was split into two different centers.

Brandon Silgjord, supervising deputy for the St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office, said it was vital to not have any interruptions in 911 service while the new system was being installed.

“First off, making sure we had continuity of service during the take down of the consoles. So we had to operate out of two different centers. We did that seamlessly, we neve missed a 911 call during that entire time period.”

Dispatchers work 10- to 12-hour shifts, and their comfort was a major consideration as the planning for the new center took place.

“The ergonomics of the desk offer them abilities to move the monitors further away, or closer to them, up and down. They can stand and sit at the desks, all have comfort control systems for heating and cooling as well,” Silgjord said.

The new dispatch center cost roughly $500,000.

It is designed to last well into the future and be able to handle increased call volume as the population increases.  It also has systems in place to ensure the center never goes offline.

“We do have back-up power systems as a part of this, multiple back-up power systems should the city lose power — that will keep the center up and running,” Silgjord said.  “During a catastrophic failure of some kind, we have a complete and full back-up system at our Pike Lake Emergency Operations Center that we can move to as well.”

In addition to the employee’s comfort, there are efficiencies that have been put in place to make the dispatcher’s job a little better. The efficiencies will also help the dispatchers continue to be the number one rated county service according to citizen surveys.

For more on the county’s 911 operations, click here.

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