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The Department of Emergency Communications utilizes a Motorola Solutions VESTA Automatic Call Distribution (ACD) system to route incoming calls to available call-takers. Each call, regardless of the number dialed (9-1-1, 10-digit, operator assisted, wireless, etc.), is routed by Verizon to the    9-1-1 Center using this system.

When the phone rings at a call-taking position, the display provides the originating telephone number of the caller if a 10-digit number was dialed. If it is a 9-1-1 call, the Verizon database provides the caller's number, name, and location information. The call-taker greets the caller and inquires about the requested services or information. If general information is requested, the caller will be transferred internally to a non-emergency information group, where another call-taker provides the requested resource information.

If a dispatch is required, the incident is entered into our Intergraph Computer-Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. This system integrates all aspects of police, fire, and EMS incident management. The system is based upon a verified location in the Master Street Address Guide (MSAG; maintained by the County's Planning Department), and an incident type. There are 178 incident types, ranging from parking complaint and loud music to cardiac emergency, shots fired, or structure fire. Based upon the incident type, the CAD system routes the incident to the appropriate police, fire, and/or EMS dispatcher.

When the dispatcher receives the incident waiting on their status monitor, the CAD system makes a unit recommendation based upon the currently active units, their availability, and post assignment. Fire and EMS units are recommended based upon the local firebox alarm information, maintained by each of 58 fire departments in Onondaga County. The priority of the waiting incidents is pre-determined by the oversight committees that represent each of the public safety disciplines. Police "in-progress" or "just occurred" incidents are dispatched under an "agency neutral" policy, where any unit in the vicinity of the incident is immediately dispatched (the "closest" unit to the call). Investigations are held for the policy agency preferred by the caller that services their location.

Wireless telephone calls to the 911 Center are handled in a very similar manner. The major difference would be that the 911 call taker would receive a general location of the caller only if the wireless telephone and wireless company are phase two compliant. If the wireless telephone is phase two compliant the 911 Center receives an approximate latitude and longitude for the caller, which is then converted to a map location by our mapping software.

When an incident is assigned to a field unit, it is received on a Mobile Data Terminal (MDT). These computers allow the field units to read the dispatch information, place themselves responding, on scene, and clear of the incident, all without tying up the voice radio network. MDTs also allow police officers to query the local police database (CHAIRS), as well as the statewide police network (NYSPIN) and motor vehicle registration database (DMV) from their cruiser. In this fashion officers may obtain warrant or caution information rapidly, promoting officer safety and efficiency. Through the NYSPIN network, officers also have a link to the international NCIC system, so they may access criminal justice information worldwide.

The zone dispatchers maintain contact with each field unit, managing the available resources to rapidly respond to changing conditions. There are also technical assistants at auxiliary dispatch positions, handling officer off-line inquiries, record-keeping tasks, and taking tactical control of critical incidents.

There are three police dispatch zones for Onondaga County exclusive of the City of Syracuse. There are two police dispatch zones for Syracuse Police. There are technical assistants for both county and city units, as well as a data dispatcher for all county and city units that handle tow requests, etc. The Syracuse Fire Department, county volunteer fire departments, and county EMS services are dispatched at individual positions. The three fire/EMS dispatchers are supported by city and county technical advisor positions. The TA positions provide support and supervisors functions to the primary dispatch positions.

Overseeing the shift floor operations are the shift supervisor and assistant supervisor. They are responsible for all aspects of daily operations, from quality control to monitoring of active incidents and personnel, shift staffing, and inquiries from agency command staff. The current authorized staffing levels for the 9-1-1 Center as vary based on the time of day and day of the week with maximum staffing planned for times of peak demand for service.  

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Onondaga County Emergency Communications receives ever-increasing numbers of 911 calls from wireless devices.  Today close to 85% of all 911 calls come in from wireless telephones. Those calls are located to the best extent possible as the Onondaga County 911 is fully FCC Phase One and Phase Two compliant.

When a Phase One wireless call is received at the 911 Center, the tower and often the tower face that transmitted the call are shown on a map displayed at the call taker’s position.  This allows the call taker to better estimate the approximate location of the caller if they are unable to provide that location verbally to the call taker. This level of technology is helpful if the caller is able to verbally communicate but is simply unsure of where they are.  It is much less helpful if the caller is totally unable to communicate verbally.

Phase two technology allows the 911 Center to map the location of a caller to within about 100 meters.  This technology can be used to help locate callers that are unable to communicate their location verbally. As a cautionary note this technology is relatively new and location information provided by wireless able to give their location to whatever extent possible.  


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