“Bensenville Police, how may I help you?”
In August of 2012 Bensenville, Illinois Police
Department was the first department to consolidate
dispatch with Addison; Addison Consolidated Dispatch
was born. This was no easy feat. Initial planning to consolidate with local agencies began in 2009. ACDC Director Delores Temes stated, “I knew we had to act, and act fast because consolidation was going to be forced upon all local police departments. I went to the Chief [Chief Hayden of the Addison Police Department] asking to perform a feasibility study.” Feasibility studies revealed economic constraints for operational costs to include manpower and infrastructure. The largest obstacle was consolidating two agencies while still providing autonomy to each, beginning with infrastructure.
ACDC: The Story Continues...
At the time many police stations housed their own dispatch, each town having
and non-emergency phone lines, and typically towns shared a radio
frequency. Most in-house
dispatch rooms housed a gamut of equipment including two to three dispatch consoles, each typically fitted with a computer and printer. Dispatchers tracked calls for service from receipt to officer dispatch by a punch card system. Volumes of books and binders were also maintained for reference.
A large map of the town hand-drawn and backlit in a case above the consoles would help dispatchers locate addresses and common places in the town. As technology boomed more advanced equipment became necessary, and so did the cost to obtain and maintain the equipment.
Because the cost of emergency services and equipment is funded in part by each municipality and county property tax funds, municipalities directly felt the financial effects of growing technology. The governing board of DuPage County, “Emergency Telephone Services Board” (ETSB) is charged with disseminating taxpayer funding to municipalities. They also felt the financial crunch. As early as 1972, suburbs of Chicago realized the need to consolidate single-town dispatch into centers. Northwest Central dispatch was established in 1972,
DU-COMM opened their doors in 1975, and another surge in technology contributed to NORCOMM opening in 1994.
Environmental and physiological concerns in these small municipal dispatch areas became apparent as new equipment meant the need for larger consoles. Larger consoles required more space. Many local municipal dispatch rooms became cramped more than ever, and more manpower was required in towns growing in population and problems. More dispatchers in a smaller space, tethered to consoles for hours on end created a difficult working environment adding to an already stressful career. Salary.com ranks “Emergency Dispatcher” as the seventh most stressful job of 2016. As a result, departments experienced higher turn-over volume which meant more mandatory overtime for those dedicated dispatchers. Emergency Services is a tough job, that few can master let alone make a career of. Many dispatchers experience burn-out due to long hours in this stressful environment.
By 2005, many towns decided to save money on systems and manpower and joined a consolidated center, to include police, fire and emergency medical services. In DuPage County, Illinois. only a handful of stand-alone municipal dispatch agencies existed. ETSB gave their final push for these towns to consolidate, especially after September 11, 2001 when Homeland Security was born and mandated a national radio system be installed no later than 2009, and a dedicated Homeland Security computer in each emergency dispatch and/or police and fire department monitored 24/7. This 2009 mandate was the final instigation for Chief Timothy Hayden of the Addison, Illinois. police department to make his idea become reality. Chief Hayden, the Addison Director of 911 Communications Donald Sommers along with then Deputy Director Delores Temes composed a multi-year strategic plan for Addison Police 911 Communications dispatch to consolidate with the remaining stand-alone DuPage County towns.
The strategic plan included statistical data from each town such as municipality, demographics, 911, and non-emergency call volume, agency personnel (sworn and non-sworn staff), and communications equipment. Communications personnel requirements for each agency was tallied according to additional workload aside from answering phone calls and radio traffic. A
SWOT analysis was created for the sole purpose of strategizing a center, and hiring and training were also cited. After the plan was created, local agencies were invited to participate in a board to discuss the operational potential and process to support a new center. Once an official commitment was reached implementation would be discussed and planned and an intergovernmental agreement contract negotiated. Bensenville was the first town to sign that contract in 2012 and Addison Consolidated Dispatch Center was born.
“ACDC, how may I help you?”
In 2012, ACDC staff employed nine dispatchers handling communications for Addison and Bensenville, and two administrative staff personnel. ACDC now boasts a center providing police dispatch for six municipalities and DuPage
County Illinois forest preserve. ACDC employs 49 individuals; 25 police dispatchers, nine fire dispatchers and six administration staff personnel. All ACDC employees are trained Police and Emergency Medical Dispatchers. Director Temes expressed, “I can’t believe how we have grown from a little municipal dispatch room handling only police services to a center offering all emergency services.” Additional employees meant the little three-position dispatch room in the Addison Police Department was not going to provide enough space for the growing center. In 2012, construction to the existing room began. Dispatchers temporarily moved upstairs while their room was expanded two-fold. Eight call-taking and dispatch consoles were added and early in 2013 dispatchers moved back in. However, this space soon would not be enough to house the growing center. Between 2013-2016 ACDC experienced unprecedented growth.
August 31, 2016
The unprecedented growth ACDC has experienced in the past four years necessitated troubleshooting options to either expand the current space, move into a new building, or construct a new facility. After researching all three options, the decision was made to construct a new building, specifically designed for the needs of emergency communication services. Additionally, the building would serve as a backup “Public Safety Answering Point” (PSAP) for DuComm, the largest PSAP in DuPage County, Illinois.
FGM Architects provided potential renovation plans in the current facility as well as building a new facility. Multiple personnel researched all three options including staff from the Village of Addison board of directors, administration, information systems, operations, ACDC staff, and ETSB. “In September, the Addison Village Board voted to build a new communications center for ACDC on the same property as the public works facility on Jeffrey Drive in Addison, Illinois,” explained Director Temes.
FGM Architects was chosen to hone the
plans already presented and submit a
final drawing for construction phase of
building the new facility.
facility on Jeffrey Drive in Addison, Illinois,” explained Director Temes. FGM Architects was chosen to hone the plans already presented and submit a final drawing for construction phase of building the new facility. The building is constructed NFPA1221-compliant. “NFPA” stands for the “National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code” which defines the rules for safety compliance in structures for emergency services. “The building will be able to withstand an F5 rated tornado. You will be able to look out the window and watch a tornado go over the building right from your console” said Deputy Director Hurd.
On August 31, 2016 ACDC broke ground on a new facility
strictly dedicated to emergency communication services. The new center was fully supported by all participating police, fire, and EMS agencies. Architectural plans can be seen in Director Temes’ office and dispatchers are buzzing about their new building. The center is slated to
have numerous dispatch console positions, an Emergency Operations Center (EOC), offices, meeting rooms, a large kitchen and even a gym. Completion of the new building is scheduled for Winter of 2017.
FGM Architects provided potential renovation plans in the current facility as well as building a new facility. Multiple personnel researched all three options including staff from the Village of Addison board of directors, administration, information systems, operations, ACDC staff, and ETSB. “In September, the Addison Village Board voted to build a new communications center for ACDC on the same property as the public works
ACDC and the communities they serve deserve the new facility.
In 2014, ETSB required ACDC and the other DuPage County dispatch centers to construct and present a strategic plan encompassing the next five years, 2015 through 2020. This plan was a requirement by ETSB to determine equitable allocation and dissemination of equipment and governmental funds to the DuPage County emergency centers. In the plan, ACDC phone call estimates based upon 2015 data show 911 call projections at 40,819 and non-emergency calls at 209,494 with the imminent addition of Glendale Heights Police Department. That came to fruition May 2016.
Projections included adding fire and emergency medical dispatch (EMD) services in 2016-2018. As of October 1, 2016 ACDC began dispatching Fire and Emergency Medical Services for Pleasantview and Tri-State. Projections through 2020 include additional prospective agencies joining ACDC for all services. The hiring of more personnel became evident. The problem: the space was again too small. The additional fire and EMD services were forced to house in a separate location. ACDC had three options; 1.) facilities had to go under construction again, 2.) move to a larger building altogether, or 3.) construct their own building. With much deliberation, ACDC decided to build their own building.
“Where is the address of your emergency?”
On August 31, 2016 ACDC broke ground on a new facility strictly dedicated to emergency communication services. The new center was fully supported by all agencies and would be constructed on a large piece of property owned by Village of Addison. Architectural plans can be seen in Director Temes’ office and dispatchers are buzzing about their new building. The center is slated to have numerous dispatch console positions, an Emergency Operations Center (EOC), offices, meeting rooms, a large kitchen and even a gym. Completion of the new building is scheduled for fall of 2017. Progress of the construction may be seen on the website and the grand opening information will also be posted on the website as the event draws closer.
ACDC has grown exponentially in the past four years and is excited for the next four years as they put the remaining components of their strategic plan into action. Deputy Director Hurd affirms, “ACDC has grown so much, in every way. We not only have grown our services, but our personnel to be the most qualified, knowledgeable, and friendly communication staff in the Chicagoland area.” The employees are trained meticulously and guided every step of the way. They are required to perform ongoing training and professional in every aspect, focusing on customer service. Sergeant Kevin Hermes of the Bensenville Police Department stated, “. . . hard to believe they can provide such quality service as they handle our citizen’s most grave situations; They deserve this new facility.”
ACDC and the communities they serve deserve the new facility. Congratulations to all the men and women at ACDC handling emergency calls, and dispatching emergency services personnel for our communities. You are quite literally the “first responders,” the unseen heroes on the other end of the phone.