In Natrona County, no call goes unanswered.
For our public safety telecommunicators, the situations encountered over the last year exposed some vulnerabilities. With the threat of one of our staff members becoming sick with COVID and the devastating, impacts that could have on services, the Casper-Natrona County Public Safety Communications Center (PSCC) went into lockdown for several months.
At any given time, this regional dispatch facility has only three telecommunicators working. That is three people answering emergency 911 calls and non-emergency calls for nearly every single first responding agency in Natrona County along with coordinating the responses for the first responders themselves. While these highly trained professionals handle that immense daily stress without fail, there was room for improvement.
During large, multi-agency incidents, our dispatch team is coordinating responses and answering citizen calls nearly every minute of the day. Over the last several years, the dispatch center has had to manage many of these, and they did with a high level of professionalism and skill.
However, with the new threat of COVID in our lives, paired with the inevitable occurrence of a large-scale event, our team began asking the question, how can we make sure no call goes unanswered?
After months of research, and with tremendous support from the Natrona Country community and Casper City Council, the Casper-Natrona County Public Safety Communication Center has purchased and stood up a fully capable, mobile dispatch unit. According to Lori Jackson, PSCC Manager who has been with the center for over 23 years, PSCC is one of the first in the area to gain this capability. Even for larger metropolitan dispatch centers, a fully capable mobile dispatch console is not yet standard in most facilities. Further highlighting the magnitude of having this capability here in Natrona County.
The use of a mobile dispatch unit does not mean our telecommunicators will be answering calls from home on a regular basis, but instead that they have the capability to in emergencies. For example, during our recent major snowstorm in March, PSCC Manager Lori Jackson, who has been testing the unit in her home, was able to assist the team of dispatchers in the office over the course of several days when many were unable to leave their homes.
In the future, when the Natrona County Dispatch Team needs to assist large-scale operations such as a wildland fire, or other major tragedy, they have the ability to fully operate out of the Natrona County Mobile Command Unit – a capability that has not yet been possible to this extent.
Our team of highly skilled telecommunications in Natrona County are rarely given the recognition they deserve as true community heroes. These behind the scene first responders are the lifeline between a citizen in need and the help available to them. The addition of mobile dispatch units is one of many ways this team is working around the clock to ensure no call goes unanswered.
We are lucky and grateful to have this team of professionals serving #ourcommunity and we are proud to recognize them during National Dispatch Week.