Eleven Bremerton Navy League membesr toured the Kitsap County CENCOM 911 Emergency Response Center on March 11. The center, which is located in southwest Bremerton, shares a very secure building with Kitsap County’s Department of Emergency Management.
Highlights of the tour included watching the 911 operators/dispatchers at work, visiting the training center and the employee rest areas. Since the 911 operators/dispatchers experience very stressful situations, there is a “quiet room” where they can take their break time to relax, as well as a large kitchen area with all the amenities of home.
In the training area we were shown what the 911 operators have at their disposal to handle emergency situations. Each operator/dispatcher works with four computer monitors. Once a call is answered, a map with the caller’s location appears on one screen so the dispatcher can quickly select the appropriate agency to respond. These include the closest municipal and tribal police departments, the Kitsap County Sheriff patrols, fire departments and even direct contact with Washington State Patrol, U.S. Navy and Coast Guard emergency response dispatch units.
Kitsap County’s CENCOM center is one of the most technological advanced centers in the state. It is one of a very few that can respond to text messages from cell phones with prepared return messages. Depending upon the situation they can simply click on one of a list of messages to save crucial time.
Cell phone calls within Kitsap County can be difficult depending on the caller’s location. The 911 call can go to a cell tower in King, Island, Pierce, Mason or Jefferson counties. When Kitsap cell phone calls are answered outside of Kitsap County they need to be quickly transferred to Kitsap CENCOM in order to dispatch the proper emergency response unit..
Following the two hour tour we came away with a deep appreciation for the dedication and knowledge required to be a 911 operator/dispatcher. It takes a very special type of person and a lot of continuous training . Many thanks to Dave Ellingson and Byron Faber for arranging the very interesting and informative tour. If another tour of CENCOM is held again, don’t miss it!