A new modern emergency phone system replaced an outdated program used by the City of Carlsbad last month after a state grant of $568,000 was secured.
The money was appropriated from the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) during the current fiscal year.
Katey Prell, commander of the Carlsbad Police Department’s communications division, said the previous system was “antiquated” by today’s electronic standards. She said the old system was installed in 2013.
“It did its job for many years,” she said.
Prell said the City of Carlsbad secured funding from the DFA’s E911 Program for the new system that went online on May 19.
According to DFA’s website, E911 is funded through a 911 emergency surcharge, which is a monthly uniform charge assessed on each access line in the state and on each active number for a commercial mobile radio service subscriber whose billing address is in New Mexico.
Prell said the cost of a new 911 Phone System included two additional phone positions.
“And three mobile positions to be utilized in a training setting and anytime we needed it outside the dispatch center such as in a command post,” she said.
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As part of the grant, Prell said the dispatch center picked up a newly upgraded long-term recording system, 911 training, minor equipment, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and a new back-up power source.
Carlsbad Assistant Police Chief Jaime Balencia said the system was installed by Motorola and technicians worked out possible kinks before the new system went online.
“They did a lot of testing if cell phones and landlines were routed correctly,” he said. “Motorola had to work around the current system. There was no downtime.”
Prell said the former system had plenty flaws and that was the deciding factor for the new system.
“We’re trying to accommodate the future of dispatch and public safety,” she said.
Prell said enhanced mapping from the new system is one advantage as dispatchers have a precise location to send help during an emergency call.
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“It’s allowed us to fix a lot of problems we faced,” she said. “The bigger part (of the state funds) was being able to be granted two additional positions.”
“Having the system in place and upgraded technology allows them (dispatchers) to do their job better.”
Balencia said a training classroom across the hall from the dispatch center allows for further training for future dispatchers.
Prell said it takes nearly a year to get new dispatchers fully trained.
“New hires will be trained in all aspects (of dispatching),” she said.
Carlsbad Mayor Dale Janway said the dispatch center is the hub of the City’s emergency response program.
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“We are always committed to making sure our dispatchers are provided with all of the resources needed in order to best help to serve the public. Of course, by far the most valuable resource we have at our dispatch center are our employees themselves – these professionals save lives every single day,” he said.
The City of Carlsbad secured additional money for the dispatch center for the upcoming 2021-2022 fiscal year.
In late May, the City Council approved a $101,000 DFA grant application to cover maintenance, training, minor equipment, and GIS.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.