When it comes to providing one of Washington State’s largest county’s with reliable, cutting edge emergency communications services, you won’t find many that match Kitsap 9-1-1. What started as a 5,000 square foot facility constructed in 1975, Kitsap 911 has been remodeled three times until a new facility was finally able to replace it in 2005 after the 2001 Nisqually earthquake. And with a new state-of-the-art facility, Zetron’s Advanced Communication Systems (ACOM) provided the perfect solution for Kitsap 9-1-1’s current and future needs.
A Decade of Service
Fast forward a decade and Kitsap 9-1-1 remains on the cutting edge of public safety and emergency communications. But in order to stay on top, the operations group went through several large changes in 2016. Call volumes reached over 331,000 with over 200,000 of them being emergency calls. A 5% increase in calls over 2015. What was more challenging beyond just the increased call volume, 74% of calls were coming from cell phones and only 26% were coming from residential landlines. This made it increasingly more important to know the caller’s location. Thankfully, they’re no stranger to change. So when the State of Washington announced it was moving to i3 ESInet, Kitsap 9-1-1 needed to upgrade their equipment to support NG9-1-1, despite their current Zetron 3200 series system still working perfectly. After looking at other systems, Kitsap 911 They turned once again to Zetron and the MAX Call Taking system to replace their 3200 system, making it the perfect complement to the ACOM system installed years earlier.
“After looking at what our other options were, we felt Zetron offered the best system that would allow us to take full advantage of the new NG9-1-1 features. And on top of their stellar reputation, when Zetron designs a product, they design it from the user’s perspective,” said Richard Kirton, executive director for Kitsap 9-1-1. “That made implementation and training a breeze for our dispatchers.”
Although 2016 brought several challenges and even more changes to Kitsap 9-1-1, they were able to stay committed to serving the citizens of Kitsap County while keeping up and adapting new technologies. “Being an early adopter usually forces you to compromise on quality or reliability, but being a long time Zetron customer, we didn’t have to worry about either one. And that gives us the ability to adopt new technologies without compromising on service,” Kirton added. “We pride ourselves in the relationships we build with our vendors and Zetron shares that same value. Thanks to that relationship we’ve built over the years, even when there is an issue, Zetron’s engineer’s resolve it quickly so we can focus on serving the people of Kitsap County.
With MAX Call Taking systems installed, Kitsap 9-1-1 took their normal, train the trainer class approach, then moved forward with training the end users. “Zetron made training virtually painless by sending out technicians to go through the system admin training,” Kirton said. “And we found most of the stuff we learned on the 3200 could be translated to the MAX system, so it worked out very well for us.”
Ahead of the Curve
Staying on the cutting edge of technology without the expense of reliability and service allowed Kitsap 9-1-1 to be the first to deploy text-to-911 events in the State of Washington. Sparking what’s become the steady evolution of the telecommunicator, involving more complexity to an already stressful job. “Looking back, it’s hard to describe the magnitude of change that’s occurred in the dispatchers roll. So keeping their jobs as simple as possible is difficult when you start adding in things like text-to-911 and other capabilities,” said Kirton. “But with the MAX Call Taking system we’re able to minimize these complexities with the best user interface and support package in the industry.”
Reliability and Dedication
After 40 years of service, two things have remained the same for Kitsap 9-1-1, the reliability of its equipment and the dedication of its staff. Dispatchers are able to focus on what is most important, providing exceptional public safety communications services every day. While Kirton and his team can continue being at the forefront of technology as 9-1-1 continues to develop over time.