The MAX Dispatch system recently installed at the London/Laurel 9-1-1 Center in Laurel County, Kentucky, is delivering the functionality and IP-based features the agency was seeking. It is also being backed by solid technical support from Zetron and local provider, London Radio Service.
As director of the London/Laurel County 9-1-1 Center in Laurel County, Kentucky, Michael Holt had a few bottomline requirements for the new dispatch system he wanted to obtain for his agency. It would have to offer high levels of interoperability, be based on updated technology, and be able to support a mobile command center. It would also require reliable, responsive 24/7 support from a local provider. And it would have to be installed while the center itself was being remodeled–without the least disturbance to their day-to-day operations.
The Zetron MAX Dispatch system installed for London/Laurel County 9-1-1 by London Radio Service has thoroughly met Holt’s requirements–and more. It is delivering the interoperability and flexibility he was hoping for. And its IP-based technology has moved the agency into the world of next-generation dispatching.
London/Laurel County 9-1-1
The London/Laurel 9-1-1 public safety answering point (PSAP) serves Laurel County as well as its county seat, the city of London. The center answers up to 45 thousand 9-1-1 calls per year and provides dispatching for the Kentucky State Police, Laurel County Sheriff, London City Police, Laurel County ambulance, London/Laurel Rescue Squad, and 12 fire departments.
Time for new equipment
Recently, it became clear that the PSAP needed to replace its trusted but aging dispatch equipment. The Zetron dispatch system they’d been using for many years was reaching its end of life. Furthermore, recent advancements in dispatch technology were offering new capabilities that the existing equipment simply wasn’t designed to support.
“We wanted to move to an IP-based system that would carry us forward and give us updated features and flexibility along with the stability we’d always had with our previous Zetron equipment,” Holt explains. “We wanted to improve our radio communications with organizations that use different manufacturers’ radio systems. And we also wanted to be able to set up a mobile command center at some point and equip it with laptops for dispatching. Whether it’s a drowning, a school shooting, or some other emergency, using laptops over IP would allow us to operate a command post at the scene and improve our ability to respond to an event without interfering with our routine activities at the main center.”
London Radio Service Wins with MAX Dispatch
London/Laurel County 9-1-1 sought and obtained funding for new equipment and a modest facility remodel. They then issued an RFP for a solution that would include a new dispatch system, four dispatch positions, and dispatch furniture to go along with it.
Their radio provider of many years, London Radio Service, won the project with a proposal featuring Zetron’s MAX Dispatch system and Zetron console furniture. It met each of the agency’s requirements, point by point. London Radio Service even developed a “continuous-operations plan” for the project to ensure that the system installation wouldn’t interrupt the center’s usual operations.
Racked, stacked, and staged
London Radio Service president, Stewart Walker, says that once they received the approval to move forward, they ordered the MAX Dispatch system, and the installation was underway.
“The trickiest part of the project was that we had to complete the installation and a live cutover in a very active call center,” he says. “We took out the old furniture early on and put their old system on racks and small furniture so they could keep using it during the install. They were doing their small remodel at the same time, laying new carpet and putting new sound-proof materials on the walls. We were doing other things as well—hanging new weather monitors and putting in the new console furniture.”
“We got the MAX system racked, stacked, staged, and pre-wired to our standards,” Walker continues. “It was all ‘plug-and-play’ by the time we were ready to put it in place. When the time came, we transitioned to the new consoles one at a time, with backup radios available in case we needed them.”
As an extra precaution, other agencies in the area were notified that the cutover was underway. But everything worked exactly as it was supposed to. “Everyone just had to pay attention,” says Walker. “It went off without a hitch.”
MAX Dispatch delivers
Holt says that the new equipment, which went live March of 2015, is delivering amply on the features and services for which it was purchased.
“We have a lot of different radio systems in our area,” he says. “So we’re really pleased with the MAX Dispatch system’s interoperability. It’s able to connect different radio systems–whether they’re P25 [Project 25] or NEXEDGE. We can link them together through our Zetron controller and benefit the whole county. With the IP capability, we can also go mobile and still communicate with all agencies, even if we’re not at the dispatch center.”
Zetron and London Radio Service are also continuing to provide the levels of support the agency requires. “They get right back to us anytime we call,” says Holt. “They understand that we’re a 9-1-1 center, and we have to operate 24/7, without fail. Plus, both Zetron and London Radio Service can access the system remotely to make changes or diagnose issues. It can be anything from changing a display icon to pulling records or checking the health of the system. It might be something we want to do but aren’t sure about. They can remote in and give us the technical assistance we need without even having to make the trip to the center.”
Holt says that the new console furniture has also been a great improvement for their dispatchers because it gives them considerable control over their immediate surroundings. “Each position can be raised or lowered to suit the dispatcher. And each one includes fan and heat controls and the ability to adjust the monitor focal points. Dispatchers who want to be sure to stand up every hour can even set a tone to remind them to do so.”
“In my opinion, MAX Dispatch is delivering huge benefits,” Holt adds. “If we’d known sooner what we know now, we’d have purchased it long ago–it has helped us so much.”