At Prince George’s County Public Safety Communications, we know that trust is the most important factor. Public-safety personnel must trust each other and trust that their communications and information systems are state-of-the-art. Only then will citizens who rely on us be able to trust that we can help keep them safe.
Trust The People
Prince George’s County, VA, stretches from the Potomac River west and south for almost 500 square miles. It comprises 18 municipal jurisdictions and more than 900,000 people.
Keeping the county’s citizenry safe and well-informed is the mission of the Prince George’s County Public Safety Communications office. We handle some 1.8 million calls a year, supporting police, fire, EMS, the Sheriff’s Office and 18 municipal jurisdictions within the Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metro area.
Our work must be based on trust. Each of these agencies must be confident that we've provided all the vital information they need to do their jobs when they get on the scene. We know that we must obtain critical information that will guide first responders.
At the same time, as the first point of contact for callers, we realize that callers often need support and comfort as they wait for help to arrive. In fact, sometimes it's our telecommunicators themselves who provide life-saving help, for example, instructing them in first aid techniques or CPR.
Trust The Technology
In order to provide this level of support to so many citizens and public agencies, we have to be sure that we can access accurate information as quickly as possible. In 2011, the county opened a new facility that is state-of-the-art and ready for next-generation 9-1-1. In 2015, we opened the Prince George’s County Emergency Operations Center. This one-of-a-kind facility was designed to provide the highest level of service to all of the public safety and public service agencies in the county. It also serves as Homeland Security headquarters and the 9-1-1 dispatch backup center.
Because we take calls for so many different entities in the county, integration is extremely important. While computer-aided dispatch is the core of all public safety, there are many other areas where our records management system must interoperate with those of other agencies.
We have a valuable technology partner to help ensure that all our communications, dispatch and records management connect seamlessly.
Trust Each Other
Technology is half of the equation. The other half is our staff that includes 34 positions in the primary PSAP. When citizens call the 9-1-1 center, they can be sure that the people they’re talking to have been trained to the highest standards – and, even more important – that they are committed to providing every kind of help they need.
We're proud that our Emergency Operations Center is one of only six in the world that have received a Triple Accredited Center of Excellence (Tri-ACE) rating from the National Academy of Emergency Dispatch. That means that we can be proud that we're providing our agencies and the public with the very highest level of service.
Any time I feel stressed, all I have to do is walk through the 9-1-1 center and the dispatch area, and I remember why we do this: because our community relies on us.
We are much more than just a voice behind the call. Learn more about us and our center.
Charlynn Flaherty is Associate Director of Public Safety Communications.