News : Plans for New 911 Center in Yakima Finalized
Yakima County, Wash., Apr 30, 2014 -- Plans for a new 911 center for both the city and county of Yakima have been finalized. Officials hope to move to the upgraded facility in the first months of next year. KIMA found out how more resources at the new center will mean quicker response times for you, when every second counts.
Kathy Hitchcock says she relies on the Yakima dispatch center several times a month. Thanks to her lifeline, she's able to get help when having a seizure, without even having to call.
"They're there by not even less than a minute after they get the call; they rush me up to the hospital and that's what saves my life," said Hitchcock.
Providing quick assistance is what Yakima's call center prides itself on. Officials say they usually pick up the phone in less than 10 seconds.
On a busy day, they can get up to 700 calls. They've already received about 50,000 calls so far this year. And, as our community continues to grow, so does the number of emergency calls.
Officials say they've outgrown their current space.
"It's an expectation of all citizens to be able to call 911," said Public Safety Communication Manager Brad Coughenour. "That's kind of the unwritten safety net."
To ensure they continue to provide that safety net, the center will move from the current space above the police department to the county's Resource Center. It was built originally as a restitution center for low-level offenders, but has sat empty for years.
County officials showed KIMA what the new renovations will look like. They'll spend more to refurbish 14,000 square feet.
The current center has 9 stations for callers and dispatchers. The new one will have 12 to start, and may grow to 17. The staff is currently 24, but could also grow to 32.
"Look how many lives they save a year and help families every year, every day, calming that family down, providing that first treatment, that first aid," said Coughenour.
The 911 call center says they are actively hiring.
Bids to renovate the center will go out in June or July. The building will house the 911 call center, Yakima city dispatch, and the Office of Emergency Medical Services. Costs will be split between the city, the county, and the 911 center, which is funded by the 911 tax.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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