In 2010, dedicated members of MREMS had a vision to create - and build from scratch - a modern, emergency dispatch and telecommunicating center, bringing local fire and rescue services together, locally, under one roof. In January of 2014, the vision became a reality and the first 911 calls and incidents were dispatched in-house. Known as the Central Communications Division, it is housed inside the MREMS Headquarters at 55 Collins Drive.
The Communications Division is broken down in to three branches:
1) Telecommunications, Dispatching, and Education
2) Answering & Business Line Services for Porter Medical Center as well as contracted offices.
3) Radio & Equipment Maintenance
Who We Are
The Communications Center is staffed 24 hours a day by one certified Dispatcher, however cross-trained EMS personnel on-duty at the station may assist during peak business hours, ensuring all phone calls are being answered, whether routine or emergent. During large scheduled events or multiple emergency situations, additional Dispatchers may be called in or scheduled to handle the supplemental call volume. The Communications Center is responsible not only for MREMS business and 911 landlines, but all switchboard lines for Porter Medical Center, as well as numerous answering service lines for various healthcare and physicians’ offices.
The Communications Center handles over 2,000 911 calls annually from Vermont Public Safety Answering Points, as well as Lifeline Companies. Professionally and quickly, the Emergency Dispatcher gathers pertinent information, enters the data, dispatches the incident via radio and paging software, and is ready to assist, update, and check on crews operating at emergency scenes or routine calls for service. Dispatchers operating in the Communications Center all have education in other fields, such as EMS, Firefighting, Business Management, Law Enforcement, and Radio Maintenance. This extra experience helps greatly when ideas are shared to improve and better the mission of the Communications Division.
Equipment and Software
The Central Communications Division currently operates two fully functioning telecommunications & dispatch positions. Equipment found at these positions include multiple-frequency radio consoles, back-up equipment to communicate with Porter Medical Center, 911 dedicated landline phones with additional lines for multiple incoming 911 calls, as well as various business line phones. Numerous computer monitors show multiple programs for the Dispatcher, including Vermont Enhanced 911 mapping software, “Active 911” paging software, current weather conditions for Med Flight Operations, an interface with the Porter Medical Center intranet, as well as several camera screens for security monitoring of the Porter Medical Center & MREMS campus.
To meet compliance, there are back-ups and redundancies in place in the event of a computer failure. Hard-copied policies, mapping, run cards, paging back-up protocols, Emergency Operations Plans, and procedures are at the ready at a moment’s notice. This division is also responsible for the programming and maintenance of MREMS Motorola and Kenwood portable radios as well Motorola pagers utilized by MREMS staff.
The Central Communications Division also monitors numerous Law Enforcement, Fire, and EMS agencies throughout the area, as well as surrounding Communications Centers located in Chittenden, Rutland, and even Rockingham Counties. With a large college campus in our service area, Dispatchers also monitor and can communicate with Middlebury College Department of Public Safety for emergencies. The UHF and VHF base radios also serve as additional communications equipment that can be used by back-up Dispatchers when it is busy in the Communications Center.
Our Continued Vision
The vision of the Central Communications Division has always been the same since its first radio transmission in 2014 - providing comprehensive, professional, and reliable communication services 24 hours a day, county-wide, for both fire and EMS agencies. Being “Central” means more than just our identification over the radio - however it’s a way of letting first responders around us know that we are local, our Dispatchers are familiar with the county and its landmarks, and that putting them first while at trainings, emergencies, or whenever they call upon us is paramount to their safety.
Continuing Education trainings take place monthly, bringing new ideas, skills, and policies for all nine of our Dispatchers, taught by our own certified Communications Instructor in-house. Future courses in Advanced Fire Communications, Public Safety Telecommunicator, and Emergency Medical Dispatcher will be taking place at the MREMS station for all Dispatchers. This education is a licensed skill similar to fire or EMS, and required recertification every other year.
Dispatchers are the true first responders, and having a professional, trained, dedicated individual behind the console is paramount to the management of emergencies and day to day activities that occur in a busy Communications Center.
If you have any questions, or would like a tour of the center, please contact our Communications Supervisor (and Co-Director), Teena Betourney, at (802) 388-3286 x 12.