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  • Pima County celebrates stronger emergency communications

    Apr 14, 2014 | Read More News
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    Pima County extracted a sobering lesson from the tragedy of the 9/11 attacks: Public safety was jeopardized because the communications systems of different agencies, from police to fire to medics, didn’t talk to one another. 

    “But it wasn’t just in New York City that communications was a mess,” said Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik. “Communications was a mess everywhere in this country. The solution was a countywide system, where law enforcement, medical people and fire could all communicate with one another.” The 2004 bond was approved by 60 percent of voters.

    With the substantial completion of the Pima County Wireless Integrated Network, announced April 14, more than 30 separate public safety agencies and seven hospital emergency rooms are all able to talk directly, in real-time, to better coordinate emergency response actions. Drexel Heights Fire District used it on the first day the system went live, coordinating the response of multiple agencies to a significant vehicle accident on Interstate 19. And Oro Valley police used it in the first 48 hours to coordinate a home invasion and hostage situation that demanded a regional response. 

    “The radio is our lifeline, as they say in the streets, and it’s so true,” said  Christopher Nanos, chief deputy of the Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

    The improved clarity and coverage are getting strong responses from the field, Nanos reported, but more importantly, should there ever be a large-scale emergency, his officers with the turn of a knob can talk to fellow first responders across multiple areas and jurisdictions.

    Pima County also today celebrated the completion of the new Emergency Communications and Operations Center that not only houses dispatch centers for the Sheriff’s Department and six fire districts, but that provides a 5,600-square-foot operations floor that allows stronger coordination of resources in a disaster. The facility brings together as many as 150 different participants, from police to fire, utilities, schools, nonprofits, public health, public works and transportation services to provide a seamless response and help return the community to normalcy. 

    Pima County Supervisors Chair Sharon Bronson applauded the regional partnership that brought the projects to fruition. “This is really a testament not only to the fact that Pima County can implement a major bond project within budget, but that multiple agencies and jurisdictions can work together to accomplish important tasks."

    Sheriff DupnikSupervisor BronsonChief Deputy Nanos