Auto accidents, heart attacks, women in the throes of labor… these are the kinds of situations emergency medical services (EMS) agencies deal with every day. And they are situations in which every second counts.
So when Cypress Creek EMS, near Houston, Texas, again chose Zetron’s Series 4000 dispatching system—this time to equip their new, state-of-the-art communication center—it spoke volumes about their confidence in the product.
The updated Series 4000 would move Cypress Creek from their existing pushbutton consoles to PC-based consoles with touchscreen capability. It would also provide the flexibility, functionality, and easy expandability necessary to support the agency’s current operations and projected growth.
Cypress Creek EMS
Cypress Creek EMS began in 1975 as a volunteer organization for northwestern Harris County, Texas, when a local man suffered a heart attack, and with no pre-hospital care available, subsequently died. The community responded and began raising funds to establish an EMS agency. They were soon able to purchase their first ambulance.
Since then, Cypress Creek EMS has grown considerably and has been recognized both statewide and nationally for the speed and quality of its services. The geographical area for which it is responsible has also expanded.
“We not only provide dispatch services for our own service area,” says Cypress Creek EMS IT manager, Toivo Sari, “but we also dispatch for the Harris County Fire Marshall’s Office, the Harris County HAZMAT team, and 13 fire and EMS agencies throughout Harris County. Our total dispatch service area is about 400 square miles.”
When Cypress Creek EMS decided to build a new center, there was no question that they would equip it with a newer version of the Series 4000.
“We’re happy with Zetron; our history with Zetron equipment is that it’s rock solid,” says Sari. “But we wanted to upgrade to the latest technology. We dispatch for so many agencies that we need to be able to configure our consoles easily and quickly. Moving to the Zetron’s Integrator RD consoles would allow us to set up the different positions to communicate with all of the different agencies we serve.”
Zetron reseller, Northwest Radio, was the obvious choice to help Cypress Creek EMS with their project because they had been the agency’s service provider for a number of years.
Located in Houston, Northwest Radio is a full-service communications company that specializes in integrated, two-way communications systems for customers in both the public and private sectors.
“I had faith that Don Cameron [owner of Northwest Radio] would do a good job based on the quality of the work he’s done for us in the past,” says Sari.
The dispatching solution for Cypress Creek EMS would include:
- Zetron’s Series 4000 Communication Control System.
- Ten positions of Zetron’s Integrator RD Workstation.
- Zetron’s Model 4048 Common Control Equipment (CCE).
- Zetron’s Intelligent Radio Module Interface (iRIM) for the agency’s Kenwood radios.
- iDEN Direct-Connect Wireless Interface Module.
- M/A-COM EDACS radio.
- Support for Kenwood’s FleetSync™ protocol.
- Panels and racks custom built by Northwest Radio to fit the agency’s radios.
“One of the smoothest transitions they’ve seen”
From all accounts, the system implementation and cutover went as smoothly as they possibly could.
“We just ran the old system until the new CAD servers and other equipment at the new center were installed,” says Sari. “Once the new system was installed, tested and ready to go, we made the cut. It went extremely well, even though we also had to coordinate with another 9-1-1 agency. People from other agencies who were standing in the wings watching said it was one of the smoothest transitions they’ve seen.”
“Don and Zetron did a great job,” he adds. “Although this installation was one of the most important aspects of the new center, it was the one I had the least concern about. I knew it would work as it should.”
“The dispatchers also made the move to the new equipment with relative ease,” he says. “Some were concerned about the touchscreens at first, but they adapted quickly. I’ve had no complaints from them, just praise. They love the new equipment.”
Of the many benefits the new system offers, Cypress Creek EMS dispatchers and administrators alike appreciate its flexibility and expandability.
“Our center is divided into two sections,” Sari explains, “one for fire, and the other for EMS. With the new consoles, a dispatcher doing fire can go to the fire section, select the tab for the geographical area he or she is working, and see the channels for that area only. On our old consoles, everything was active all the time; now, the dispatchers aren’t inundated with audio for areas they aren’t working. This is very helpful when it gets really busy.”
“With the new system, we can also expand without having to redo the center,” he continues. “As we pick up other agencies, we can just add the appropriate equipment in the backroom, reprogram the consoles, and we’re ready to go.”
As of this writing, the new system was already being expanded beyond its original installation. “Because the system is so flexible,” says Don Cameron, “we’re currently in the process of adding five Motorola ASTRO Digital XTL 5000 radios to accommodate five more agencies.”
Ready for APCO
Since Cypress Creek’s new center opened in April, representatives from numerous agencies have toured the facility. And they have been impressed.
“We’ve had a constant string of visitors, and they like what they see,” says Sari, “As a result, we’re adding agencies even faster than we thought we would.”
With the 76th Annual Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials (APCO) Conference slated for Houston in 2010, Sari is eager to show off the facility to those who know a good comm center when they see one: “We hope to be a dispatch-tour stop when APCO comes to town,” he says.