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Orange County Squadron Tours Emergency Services Center

Sgt Ian Fowler of Orange County Emergency Services demonstrates the national weather tracking map
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Sgt Ian Fowler of Orange County Emergency Services (Right) demonstrates the national weather tracking map to CAP Lt Ron Long during the ES Communications Center tour on April 16, 2015. Photo Credit: SM Lynne Albert, PAO, MER-NC-150 (click image to view full size)
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CAP Senior Members learn details of 9-1-1 Communications Center

4/16/2015–– Senior Members of the Orange County Composite Squadron toured the Orange County Emergency Services’ (ES) Communications Center in Hillsborough, NC on April 16, 2015.  The tour was led by Sgt Ian Fowler, the Communications Training Officer for Orange County Emergency Services.  Prior to joining the ES team, Sgt Fowler was an EMT and volunteer firefighter.  

During the tour, the CAP members learned that the 9-1-1 telecommunicators handle more than 300 service calls daily and answered over 100,000 calls in 2014.  This large volume of calls is handled by the ES Communications Center staff of 5 to 6 people per shift, who work in rotating 12 hour shifts.  Sgt Fowler noted that the goal of the Communications Center was to answer 100% of its calls within ten seconds.  
The most common types of calls to the ES Communications Center were for: seizures, diabetic-related issues, chest pains, breathing problems and falls.  The ES Center uses both on-line and written protocols to help callers with these and other issues.  Sgt Fowler explained that, while calls during the night shift were fewer in number, those calls were often more intense, action calls.  He also noted that, with Orange County being a mostly rural county, they receive a great many calls about animals being lost or running loose. 
The 9-1-1 Communications Center is staffed 24/7 and 365 days a year.  Because of the fast pace and importance of their jobs, the telecommunicators deal with stress levels that are second only to the stress levels endured by air traffic controllers.  Several telecommunicators told the CAP members that they deal with the stress of ES by enjoying nature on their days off.  The CAP members were impressed by the positive personalities of the ES Center staff. 
The tour included viewing the Primary Dispatch Console, the law enforcement pod and the fire and EMS pods.  Sgt Fowler demonstrated how the telecommunicators worked multiple phone lines while simultaneously monitoring and responding to radio traffic from ES responders.  This communications multi-tasking skill takes a year or longer to develop and requires a quick and flexible mind. 
Sgt Fowler also demonstrated how the ES telecommunicators monitored the weather on a nationwide basis and monitored local and national news.  The ES Center’s radios, telephones and computer systems were sophisticated and state of the art.
The tour concluded with heartfelt thanks from the CAP members to the ES Center staff for all they do as the first line of defense against crime, sickness and disasters.   
After the tour, Jeryl Anderson, Head of Orange County Emergency Services’ Special Initiatives, stated that "the Orange County Emergency Services Department is delighted that the Civil Air Patrol could join us in celebrating National Public Safety Telecommunicator's Week."