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House Explosion Put Consolidated Dispatch Center to the Test

The new state-of-the-art facility allowed dispatchers to quickly and easily communicate with fire personnel, police officers and each other to minimize response times and keep the community safe.

Red, yellow and green lights lit up across the room. Talking simultaneously to multiple officers, dispatchers fielded phone calls from worried residents and got vital information to fire department officials. The new Consolidated Dispatch Center in Bayside had only been open for four days when a Glendale home exploded, putting the communications equipment and newly-formed team to the ultimate test. 

"During the explosion, one dispatcher just buckled down and processed as many phone calls as she could, while somebody else was getting fire dispatched out," 

Chief Bruce Resnick said the new center allows for more extensive communication between dispatchers, police and fire that wasn't possible when they were in separate facilities. In the case of the home explosion, there were many additional police officers because of all the streets that had to be blocked off, and they were assessing whether they needed to evacuate nearby homes. That communication took place between the police and fire departments with coordinating help from the dispatchers. 

"That couldn't have happened before because they were in different centers," Resnick said. "This way they can turn around and look at the other person so it's coordinated very quickly on the fly. It's a big advantage."

The new facility is state-of-the-art, complete with television screens showcasing constant news feeds, weather reports and more. Rauenbuehler said these things are necessary because dispatchers need to know what's going on outside the center. 

She remembers the calls she received on and around Sept. 11, 2001, when she was working in Brookfield. Rauenbuehler said people called about low-flying planes asked dispatchers if they needed to be concerned. Had the dispatchers not known about what happened in New York, they wouldn't have necessarily understood why people were concerned. 

While the new facility is equipped to keep them in-the-know, Rauenbuehler said it's the team of dispatchers working together that's made this transition so successful. 

"It's been a lot of juggling getting the training done at the same time as the transition," Rauenbuehler said. "But seeing everyone working together, they're good professionals and that's the best part, just seeing them all gel together."

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