EMERGENCY RESPONSE FACILITY TO HOST APRIL 15 PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE

EMERGENCY RESPONSE FACILITY TO HOST APRIL 15 PUBLIC OPEN HOUSE

The Mesilla Valley Regional Dispatch Authority (MVRDA) – through which emergency 911 calls are routed from most areas of Doña Ana County – will hold an open house Monday, April 15, 2002, from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

MVRDA Director Eddie Goldsmith said he and several shift supervisors will be on hand to explain operations and conduct tours of the facility, which is located at 130 W. Lohman Ave., across the street (to the north) from the Wells-Fargo Bank Tower.

Visitors to the open house will have the opportunity to see new equipment installed at MVRDA in September of 1999, which allows operators to dispatch emergency services with a touch of a button while simultaneously updating the county’s entire database to reflect the nature, time and location of the call. Each incoming 911 call displays the address and telephone number of the call, which dispatchers verify while they obtain more specific information about the nature of the emergency at hand.

Emergency dispatchers will be handling live police, fire and ambulance calls during the open house.

The new system replaced a cumbersome process that had operators talking on telephones and radios, all while trying to type and fill out triplicated forms by hand. The enhanced system also allows dispatchers to communicate with deaf residents by using special software installed at each work station.

Funded by E-911 charges that are assessed to each telephone line in the county, the $528,000 dispatch system is fully redundant and backed up by generators, battery supplies and a smaller, twin dispatch system located in Hatch.

Under state law, each residential and commercial telephone line is assessed a 51-cent monthly fee dedicated to enhanced 911 services. The state Legislature is evaluating a similar monthly fee for cellular phones, which would outfit 911 systems to pinpoint the nearest relay tower from which a cellular call is originating. The new system in Doña Ana County is equipped to handle that technology if and when the Legislature approves the assessment on cell phone usage.

The main dispatch facility in Las Cruces handles eight incoming emergency lines and six administrative lines. Those capabilities can be upgraded to as many as 266 total lines as growth dictates.

Doña Ana County budgeted more than $136,000 for the renovations leading up to the conversion, including a new roof, new furniture and interior and exterior remodeling. The result is a work space almost triple the size and capacity of the old space, although it is located in the same building. The old space was remodeled as a conference and training center, which is used by several county departments.

For more information, call county Public Information Director Jess Williams at (505) 647-7229. Residents calling from outside the Las Cruces area may call toll-free at 1-877-827-7200 and request extension 7229.