The 28-position ACOM solution Monroe County 9-1-1 recently installed provides the flexibility the PSAP needs to serve the county’s resident population as well the tens of thousands of visitors who attend the area’s two major NASCAR events each year.
It has been said that trust is hard to earn and easy to lose. Nowhere is this truer than in the world of public safety. A communication system that falters in its ability to answer a call or send first responders to the scene not only erodes trust but can cost lives. On the other hand, a solution that performs reliably and supports the efficiency mission-critical situations require can inspire trust and loyalty that span years—even decades.
So it’s no small thing that the 9-1-1 center at Monroe County, Pennsylvania, just installed two Zetron ACOM dispatch systems—one in their main center and one in their overflow/backup facility. Monroe County had implemented an earlier version of ACOM in 2007. Agency director Gary Hoffman says that, ever since then, not only has Acom run reliably and well, but the support provided by both Zetron and TuWay Communications, the vendor who installed and maintained the original system, has been above reproach.
That’s why, when the time came for Monroe 9-1-1 to obtain new communications equipment, Zetron’s ACOM was such a strong candidate.
Since its installation, the system has more than proven itself. And its ability to support the PSAP’s expanded operations during two major NASCAR events each year has been a siginificant boon to the agency.
Located in the Pocono Mountains, Monroe County’s population is roughly 170,000. But this number more than doubles twice each year when the area’s Pocono Raceway hosts two weekend-long NASCAR events. The lush beauty of the region also makes it a popular summer destination for tourists, especially New Yorkers looking to flee the city. One impact this has on Monroe County is that its 9-1-1 center must be equipped and ready to respond effectively to calls from its considerable and fluctuating population of visitors as well as its permanent residents.
Monroe County 9-1-1
As the county’s only public safety answering point (PSAP), Monroe County 9-1-1 provides emergency call-taking services to Monroe County and Lehman Township in Pike County, Pennsylvania. It also provides dispatching for 21 volunteer fire departments, 10 emergency medical services (EMS) agencies, 15 additional governmental agencies, and 5 local police departments—two of which are among the largest regional departments in the state.
The move to Acom
For many years prior to installing their first ACOM system, Monroe 9-1-1 had been using another manufacturer’s dispatch system. But by 2007, the center’s needs had changed and their system had become outdated. Instead of merely updating the system, however, Monroe 9-1-1 decided to install Zetron’s ACOM system. “Acom offered the capacity, functionality, future expansion capabilities, and advancements we were looking for,” says Hoffman. “Other manufacturers’ consoles couldn’t touch what ACOM could provide.”
Keeping pace with technology
ACOMworked well for Monroe 9-1-1. But in 2014, the agency had another decision to make if they were to keep their operations current. Should they simply perform a technical refresh of their existing processors and PCs, or should they install a new dispatch system based on new technology? They opted for the latter and issued an RFP for new equipment. Zetron reseller TuWay Communications responded and won the project to install Zetron’s ACOM system and 18 console positions at the Monroe 9-1-1’s main center, and a second ACOM system and 10 console positions at their overflow/backup center.
Headquartered in Allentown, Pennsylvania, TuWay Communications specializes in systems design, optimization, and maintenance for public safety, education, health care, and business.
“We’ve enjoyed a long and very successful relationship with TuWay,” says Hoffman. “And their proposal blew the competition out of the water. ACOM would allow us to dynamically group resources on our screens for specific uses. This might not seem like much, but it means everything to us. With a simple drag-and-drop procedure, we’d be able to populate a screen with just the resources required for a specific incident or event. No other system would let us do that.”
Another critical benefit of ACOM is that it would allow the agency to run both their main and backup centers simultaneously. ”The overflow/backup center would be able to either take over for the main center or supplement operations at any time,” says TuWay Communications president and CEO, Bill Landis.
An easy install and transition
It takes extensive planning to dismantle a major communications system, install a new one, and ensure that not a single call is lost in the process. Landis explains how they managed it.
“We did the backup center in its entirety while the old system continued running in the main center,” he says. “We installed the system, did all the programming, then brought the dispatchers in and trained them. Although the system offers expanded and advanced functionality, it operates very much like the previous system, so the dispatchers didn’t have much of a learning curve. They worked in the backup for about ten days while we completed the installation in the main center. By the time we cut the main center over, the dispatchers had the system down pat.”
Keeping up with races
Ever since the project was completed in the spring of 2015, ACOM has indeed been providing the advanced, flexible operation and ease of use Monroe 9-1-1 was seeking. “On race weekends, we can populate the overflow center and have a total of 28 positions all running at the same time,” says Hoffman. “This greatly improves our ability to stay on top of these events. In addition, the dynamic screen groupings not only improve our ability to have a dispatcher focus on a specific incident, but it’s a great training tool. We can put a limited number of resources on a particular screen to direct the focus of the training so the trainee isn’t overwhelmed. We love the features and user friendliness of the system; it’s a fantastic product.”
“ACOM has outdistanced the competition with the advancements it’s made and continues to make,” Landis adds. “Zetron’s got the Cadillac of the industry right now.”