The Oxnard Police/Fire Communications Center answers all of the 911 calls for the City of Oxnard. This includes residential, business and wireless callers. They also handle the non-emergency and emergency 7-digit phone lines, Animal Control, traffic enforcement, Code Compliance and internal phone lines. In general, the Communications Center handles 950-1,000 phone calls per day. In 2011, the 911 calls into the center consisted of 99,360 calls, 74% of those calls were from wireless devices. The peak call taking hours are between 1200-2100 hours.
The Dispatchers are also trained to provide Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) instructions over the phone which includes how to give CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, child birth, use of an AED and how to control bleeding. This allows the Dispatchers to provide the caller with lifesaving medical instructions while the first responders are driving to the call. The Dispatchers not only handle emergency call taking, they are also responsible for radio dispatching.
The Communications Center uses a language translation service which allows for three way calls including an interpreter. The translation service can get translators for up to 143 language including dialects such as Mixteco. This allows for ease of interrogation and caller questioning regardless of language. The most common language requested is Spanish. However, the center has had requests for Tagalog, Vietnamese, Mandarin and German.
The Public Safety Dispatchers also handle 3 police frequencies and 2 fire frequencies. In 2012 they dispatched 18,538 fire and medical responses in the City of Oxnard. They also handled 36,487 police responses in 2012.
The Communications Center completed a remodel and phone upgrade in October 2012. The project was funded by the State 911 Office and was one of five pilot projects in the State of California.
The project is designed to look at Next Generation 911 solutions. Next Generation 911 includes communication via text message, photos and videos. Although this technology is not currently accessible to the general public, it is expected to become a mandate in the near future. The phone project also allows for interoperability and multiple alternate answer locations. The project was completed with Simi Valley Police Department and Ventura County Sheriff’s Office and allows for the Communications Center to relocate to Ventura, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley or Oxnard in the event of a natural or manmade disaster that requires evacuation.
The center is currently staffed with 26 Full-time Dispatchers and 2 Part-time Dispatchers. This includes 5 working Supervisors and the Communications Manager. There are currently 6 Public Safety Dispatchers in training. During this past year the Communications Center started to do continuous recruitment to try to meet the hiring needs. It is a huge challenge to get Dispatchers through the training program due to the level of multi-tasking, stress and schedules required to do the job.
The training program for new hires is a year long. It consists of a four week in-house academy, three week POST academy, and over eleven months of on the job training. The new hires are assigned a Communications Training Officer (CTO) for the entire year so they have constant supervision and training. The majority of the training is on the job so they have practical application answering phones, dispatching fire and medical calls and handling the police frequencies.
The Dispatchers participate in collateral assignments both within the center and the department. They participate in the Explorer Program, Victim Advocate, Tactical Dispatch, Communications Training Officer and Mentoring Program. They are also very involved in committees such as the Quality Assurance, Employee Recognition, Safety Committee, Patrol/Communications and Fire/Communications.
The Communications Center is also in the process of changing Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems. The department has purchased the New World suite of products which will include a new CAD, mapping, Records Management System (RMS) and field based reporting system. The new computer system will enhance the capabilities of the Dispatchers as it relates to tracking cellular callers, dispatching fire apparatus through GPS, obtaining history and prior contact information, as well as enhanced resource accountability and documentation.