Introduction to the Enhanced 911 System
The El Paso County Enhanced 911 System is a cooperative effort of the El Paso County 911 District, City of El Paso, and County of El Paso. The 911 Center is located at the Emergency Communication Center at 200 N. Kansas, in Downtown El Paso. The 911 Call-Takers, El Paso Fire Department Call-Takers/Dispatchers, and El Paso Police Department Dispatchers are located in this facility. The El Paso County Sheriff's Office currently maintains their communications facility at the Jail Annex on Montana Street.
The El Paso County 911 District provides the 911 Center telephone switching equipment, software, Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) hardware, and assists in funding other associated projects. The City of El Paso and the County of El Paso provide the staffing for the 911 Center and all radio equipment and some software.
The purpose of the El Paso Fire Department Communications Division is to receive emergency calls, determine the appropriate response of emergency resources, dispatch resources, and provide updated information to the responding resources.
How the Basic E911 System Works
As soon as you dial 9-1-1, a computer at the 911 Center detects your phone number and the location of that phone. A 911 Call-taker will answer the call, by standard, in less than 30 seconds and state "911, what is your emergency?" They will ask for your address and phone number to confirm and in case there is an interruption in the call. If your emergency is of a law enforcement nature in the City of El Paso, the 911 Call-taker will take your information and build a Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) computer card for the event. A separate Police Department Dispatcher views the CAD card and will determine the appropriate response to the incident. If the call is for law enforcement for the County of El Paso, the call will be transferred to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office.
If the call is for a Fire or Medical Emergency in the City or County your call is transferred to the El Paso Fire Department. The EPFD Call-Taker will ask the nature of your emergency, reconfirm the address and phone number, and determine the type and priority of your call. But, don't hang up yet!!! A Fire Department Dispatcher has been watching the building of the CAD card and as soon as the type and priority is determined, they determine the appropriate resources and dispatch them. The Call-Taker will still ask many questions, but don't worry; the response units and personnel are already on their way. The remaining questions are asked in order to provide more detailed information to the responding personnel, so that they can be thinking of what to look for and how to deal with your particular emergency. The Call-Taker will also provide "Pre-Arrival Instructions". For a fire, this might include getting out of the building, flagging down the responding units, and dealing with other occupants. If it is a medical emergency, pre-arrival instructions might include CPR instructions, unlocking the door for the responders, or how to control bleeding. These instructions are based on a nationally recognized source that has been approved by the El Paso Fire Department Medical Director.
As stated, when the Fire Department Call-taker is asking all those questions, a Fire Dispatcher is busy getting you the help you need. When the address has been verified and the call prioritized by the Fire Call-taker, the Dispatcher uses the CAD computer to recommend the closest unit(s) according to the AVL system, for that call type. They immediately tone out over a radio frequency to the Fire Stations and the units that are available by radio in the field. The Dispatch is given and repeated by giving the Fire Unit numbers, address, call type, and radio channel the incident is assigned to. When the units respond on the assigned radio channel, a separate Dispatcher monitors the reports and documents all communications regarding the incident.