County Board updated on combined dispatch

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

SHEBOYGAN – Just over two months into its operation, the County Board received a report on the new combined county-city dispatch center Tuesday.

Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Department Inspector Jim Risseeuw gave supervisors a Power Point presentation on the new center and the concurrent update of the countywide emergency radio system.

The new center went into operation in a remodeled portion of the county Law Enforcement Center last Nov. 14 and, Risseeuw noted, “the new center is much larger but much more accommodating.”

The new center has 10 incoming phone lines, according to Risseeuw, “so we can take as many as 10 ‘911’ calls at a time.”

The integration of former city dispatchers into the county-run center has gone smoothly, he added.

Roughly half a million dollars were invested in new computer software for the 911 system, Risseeuw said.

That enables staff at the center to dispatch needed help for emergency situations faster. It also allows for deeper analysis of 911 calls. For instance, according to Risseeuw, staffing has been adjusted to help better meet peak need times.

In addition to the combined dispatch center, the $5 million upgrade of the emergency radio system has helped improve emergency response, he said.

Along with the new radios for police and fire departments, ambulance services and first responders, there were upgrades to existing antennas and the addition of another antenna near the village of Cedar Grove.

“We got to see immediate benefits from that,” Risseeuw said of the new antenna, which helped fill in a blank coverage area in the old radio system in the Amsterdam Dunes area.

That paid off in a recent search for a missing person in that area, according to Risseeuw. The missing person was found much quicker thanks to the improved communication.

“It’s like going from rabbit ears on a television to a satellite high-definition picture,” Risseeuw said of the improved audio quality of the new radios.

In introducing the presentation by Risseeuw, County Administrator Adam Payne praised the collaboration between the city and the county, as well as law enforcement and emergency agencies throughout the county, in implementing the new system.

“This was a remarkable achievement and investment in our community,” Payne stated. “It provides a more efficient, effective and consistent level of service, eliminates the need and delay associated with transferring calls, provides for better countywide radio coverage and will help save lives.”

Noting that the combined dispatch proposal had been under discussion for nearly three decades, Payne thanked all involved for their leadership, support and cooperation.

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