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New Jefferson County 911 center will give dispatchers better work environment

July 30, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. -- While Jeff Polczynski deals with gripes from local police chiefs over 911 issues, he also is putting together a new multimillion-dollar dispatching center.

On Tuesday morning, manuals and wires lay among new dispatching stations as Polczynski, head of the 911 center, worked toward his goal of getting the system running by next month.

"I'm working as hard as I can," Polczynski said at the new center in Bardane, W.Va.

The 911 center is switching to digital radios to replace an outdated, analog system that has not been dependable for police.

The radio system is based in a center more than double the size of the old one nearby and is designed to give dispatchers a better work environment, Polczynski said.

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The new facility has seven dispatch stations, compared to the four radio stations in the current center.

Polczynski said emergency dispatching is a stressful job, so steps have been taken to create a comfortable workplace.

Dispatch stations can be raised or lowered, and lighting in the main room includes natural light through bullet-proof windows, small "task lights" and indirect ceiling lights that reflect light upward to reduce glare on computer screens, Polczynski said.

There is a room where emergency response officials can stay for an extended time to deal with situations like weather disasters or terrorist attacks, and there are showers, sleeping areas and a full kitchen with two refrigerators.

"I can keep a dispatcher here as long as I have food," Polczynski said.

There is a "de-stress" room where dispatchers can collect their thoughts after handling a tragic incident.

The facility is "hardened" to protect it against natural disasters or intruders, officials have said.

Describing it as a "building within a building," Polczynski said the former arts center has a block and brick exterior, and a 140-foot radio tower in the back can withstand winds of more than 100 mph.

The new radio system will allow for 50 talk groups compared with the five channels on the current system, and it can track the location of cell phone callers, unlike the current system.

In a computer room, a giant air-conditioning unit hums to protect the equipment from overheating and a diesel generator out back can run the facility for two weeks.

Polczynski said he has been doing much of the wiring of the new system himself.

"It was planned and built for the future. Everything I've done, I've considered the future," said Polczynski, who added that the facility will probably serve the county adequately for 25 years.

"It's a labor of love, I guess," although Polczynski said it also causes "a lot of headaches."

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