Dispatchers field 911, numerous other callsNot that long ago, anyone encountering an emergency situation had to hope for a pay phone and a phone book to be nearby. Those were the days before nationwide 911 service.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
Not that long ago, anyone encountering an emergency situation had to hope for a pay phone and a phone book to be nearby.
Those were the days before nationwide 911 service.
“Let’s say there’s an emergency. Let’s say it’s a car accident. You’re going to go drive to a telephone,” said Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager.
At that point, a person seeking to call for help in an emergency would then need a phone book, so that he or she could look up the correct emergency number for the correct emergency response team — the fire department in the correct fire district, or the ambulance in the correct location to cover the accident or the right law enforcement agency, Bergquist said.
All would be listed at the front of the phone book.
“If you called the wrong fire department, I don’t know what they did. They probably told you to call the other fire department,” Bergquist said.
The days before 911 weren’t that long ago, either.
Until 1986, the Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office and the Jamestown Police Department were in different locations, prior to moving into the new Stutsman County Law Enforcement Center.
Bergquist’s first task, when he took the job of emergency manager — which in Stutsman County includes coordinating the 911 system — was to create a 911 system.
“It is a matter of you picking up your cellphone and dialing 911,” Bergquist said. “You don’t have to worry about finding a phone booth anymore.”
That means a much faster response to emergencies.
“We save many lives, and many additional properties,” Bergquist said.
More than ever before, people call 911 from cellphones.
Of the 5,457 911 calls in 2011, 3,976 of them came from cellular phones. Of the remainder, 1,179 were from landlines inside the city of Jamestown and 230 were from landlines elsewhere in the county.
The dispatch center
The dispatchers at the Stutsman County Communications Center — the formal title of the dispatch office — handle more than just the 911 calls from people in emergency situations.
They field calls for 30 different emergency and nonemergency response teams and assist them in getting to the correct locations so that they can help the public.
In 2011, the communications center dispatched 26,068 calls for service, up from 22,575 calls in 2010. This includes calls to 911 and nonemergency calls to other numbers connected to the center. For example, the center’s nonemergency number is 252-1000.
“Our biggest customer is the Jamestown Police Department,” Bergquist said.
The JPD was dispatched 15,835 times in 2011 alone — an average of 43 times a day, and 60.7 percent of the total calls dispatched.
That number includes 1,079 animal calls, 2,334 traffic stops, 878 non-moving vehicle violations, 648 suspicious persons or activities, 133 unruly juveniles and exactly one call for a case of indecent exposure.
Calls to the JPD dwarf numbers of calls to every other organization, with Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office second on the list with 6,738 calls — about 42.6 percent of the calls the JPD gets.
But the dispatch center also received in 2011 1,566 calls for Jamestown Ambulance, 225 calls for the Jamestown Fire Department, 560 calls for the North Dakota Highway Patrol and 267 calls for Jamestown Public Works.
Then there are the smaller organizations. The Marion Fire Department had one call for service through the dispatch center in 2011, as did the Streeter and Woodworth fire departments.
Dispatchers at the Stutsman County Communication Center also send tow trucks to accident scenes on a rotational basis — there were 537 of these calls in 2011. There were also 108 fire alarm calls and 423 security alarm calls and 105 severe weather warnings issued.
In total, the communications center had 97,470 incoming and outgoing calls in 2011.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453
or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org