CATSKILL — Greene County will soon have the first computer-aided dispatch system in the state that is able to communicate with a system in another county.
The system, which went live in October 2019, will be connected to Ulster County’s system July 14, Greene County EMS Deputy Director Randy Ormerod said. The county is also exploring the option of becoming connected with Dutchess County within the year, he added.
“It’s mind-blowing technology,” he said.
Partnering with Dutchess will be particularly helpful because many calls from Kaaterskill Falls intended for Greene County get inadvertently sent to Dutchess County due to cell towers, Ormerod said.
“We are the first ones in New York state to have two different systems talking to each other,” he said. “If we have a call that comes to us that is meant for Ulster County, within seconds it will be sent to Ulster. It will be the first of its nature within New York state.”
Other municipalities looking to upgrade their systems such as the town of Bethlehem have come to Greene County for guidance, Ormerod said.
Columbia County and Albany County do not use the same type of CAD system, he said.
The CAD system, funded by a state interoperability grant through the state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services cost $1.5 million in software and an additional $1 million in manpower.
The CAD system was one of several upgrades to the 911 dispatch center including switching radios from low-band to high-band at $750,000, upgrading the phones at $500,000 and the voice recording system at $100,000.
The new voice recording system will have more capabilities including screen captures and video captures.
A screen capture will help to verify information, Ormerod said.
“The system will take snapshots of the dispatch console so we can check to make sure particular fields are filled in correctly,” he said.
By comparing the audio recording and the visual screen shot, dispatchers will be able to determine if an error was made when filling out the call log.
“We also have the ability to capture videos,” Ormerod said.
The new system can find the IP, or internet protocol, address of building and traffic cameras and record, he said.
The high-band radio system will be more effective for the county because there will be less interference.
Many electronic devices such as laptop charges, traffic lights and fluorescent lights fall within the same range as the low-band radios and cause problems, Emergency Manager Specialist Daniel King said in October 2019.
Texting to 911 is on the horizon, Ormerod said in March 2019.
“Our new phone system is capable,” he said. “Our phone vendors are not 100% capable yet of sending texts to 911.”
In April 2019, Greene County received an excellence award from Tyler Technologies, the software company behind the system, for its innovative and heroic use of the CAD system — using it to locate a lost hiker before the system went live.
Representatives from Greene County Emergency Services and 32 other recipients from across the nation attended the 2019 Tyler Connect conference in Dallas from April 7-10.
Greene County EMS Director John Farrell told lawmakers at the Public Safety meeting that other changes are happening at the department.
Firefighting training will resume July 13 and will be limited to the county’s training center in Cairo. Capacity of the classrooms was reduced to comply with social distancing guidelines, he said.
Eight classes are scheduled between July and December, Farrell said.
“We sent it out [June 30] and people are signing up already,” he said.
EMS training will resume in September on Tuesday and Thursday nights, he said.
The dispatch center has distributed 1,278 personal protective items to 134 businesses, Farrell told lawmakers at the Public Safety meeting July 1.
“We have 25 businesses coming with the next two days,” he said.
Available supplies include cloth masks, surgical masks, KN95 masks, plastic face shields, gloves, hand sanitizer and thermometers to businesses in need. Requests can be emailed to email@example.com. Once the request is approved, supplies can be picked up from the 911 Dispatch Center at 25 Volunteer Drive in Cairo either on Mondays from 1-3 p.m. or on Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon.