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October 15, 2013

Regional center working out dispatch kinks

ESSEX — Months after this town’s dispatch emergency services were transferred to the Essex County Regional Emergency Communications Center in June, operations on the whole are running smoothly, police Chief Peter Silva says, but some kinks still need to be worked out as others have been solved.

Essex began using the new regional center during the week of June 24, with Wenham going live with regional dispatching shortly after, and Essex public safety officials say that after initial technical problems, everything is going as planned.

Silva said that, just as with any other significant change, there have been some growing pains and learning curves, but “every week is an improvement.”

Silva said that contrary to what some may believe, the process is not as easy as flipping a big switch and seeing everything run as smoothly as planned. He noted, for example, that the recorder that takes incoming calls was not working correctly early on, while another issue has been occasional delays in letting town police obtain their own log information.

But, he said, dispatcher center employees have been very helpful in working out any glitches.

”Like with any new product, you’ll have some training issues and how to handle calls,” Silva said.

All things considered, the regional switch has been a hit for Essex.

“I can’t believe how good the radio comes in,” he said. “Times not long ago (pre-dispatch center), we had trouble reaching our own station.”

Silva said the equipment upgrades that have come through the switch to emergency dispatch — made available by the Essex County Sheriff’s office that runs the center — represent a dramatic improvement or the town in terms of record-keeping and how information is stored.

“It’s a tremendous change in how we have been doing business,” he said.

Essex fire Chief Daniel Doucette also said that, by and large, there have been no significant problems and that everything transitioned smoothly.

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