New 911 call center breaks ground in Grand Island
The City of Grand Island emergency services says they're seeing higher call volumes.
Thursday, the city broke ground on a new emergency facility that would help operators get to calls quicker.
Back in 2017, Jon Rosenlund Emergency Management Director told NTV that in 2016, they had 50,000 more emergency calls than the previous year.
Although they've added another dispatcher since then, this new center allows them eight more dispatchers.
"As a result of that call volume that we're seeing, the 911 center is taking more calls, every call our agencies go on, is handled by the 911 center operators," Cory Schmidt, Grand Island Fire Department fire chief, said.
That's why this new emergency and 911 call center was needed.
"That's the key right there, we want to make sure that we can always meet the need," Rosenlund said.
Their current location is in the basement of City Hall and they only have four operators. Once this new facility opens, they'll have 12 dispatchers.
"Going from four dispatch stations to 12 dispatch stations will really provide us a lifetime of growth in this building," Rosenlund said.
They will use City Hall location as a backup.
The new building will be tornado resistant allowing them to continue answering calls if and or when one blows through.
"It's designed to take an F–3 tornado. So if, you know, something really bad happens, we can ensure that we can operate and we can operate safely. And if something really bad does happen and we are forced to evacuate, we know we have that fully functioning alternate at City Hall," Rosenlund said.
The fire chief said adding more operators now helps them do their jobs better in the future.
"When the call volume is high, in those situations with the new center, they can bring in more operators to take those calls and at that time it would make us a little bit quicker out the door which is what we're after," Schmidt said.
Grand Island Mayor Jeremy Jensen said this plays a role in making the city safer.
"If we have some sort of natural disaster, we want to make sure that we have an adequate back up plan should something happen at City Hall. Right now, I mean we have a backup plan, but it's not what I would consider adequate. So, it's a big step for us to be able to we're able to do that," Jensen said.
This project is costing the city roughly $3.4 million. Rosenlund said that money coming from a 2 percent cell phone tax.
The new center is set to open in spring of 2019.