Regional Emergency Dispatch
The Dispatcher is a person in the neighborhood...
The Village of Northbrook is now host to the Regional Emergency Dispatch (R.E.D.
Center). R.E.D. Center provides Fire & Emergency Medical Service (EMS) dispatch
for the Northbrook Fire Department as well as the Highwood, Lincolnwood, Lincolnshire-Riverwoods
Fire Protection District, Long Grove Fire Protection District, Morton Grove, Niles,
Wheeling, Wilmette and Winnetka / Kenilworth Fire Departments. It also provides dispatch for the
Deerfield-Bannockburn, North Maine, and Prospect Heights Fire Protection Districts.
It is the only one of its kind in the Chicago metropolitan area.
R.E.D. Center is part of an integrated, multi-jurisdictional organization that
provides closest station response regardless of municipal boundary. It is through
a coordinated central dispatch office. This closest station response regardless
of jurisdictional boundaries has brought the greatest benefit to participating
agencies by cutting response time by 25% on average. This translates into a faster
attack and quicker application of extinguishing agent, quicker return of apparatus
to full service for additional alarms. It also gives the ability to handle a fire
with a large amount of initial resources.
Since its inception in 1977, R.E.D. Center has proven its ability to provide fast, effective EMS and fire response to emergencies. R.E.D. Center started out at the Niles Fire Department. In 1981, it relocated to the basement of Glenview Fire Station 6. With the addition of the 911 system in 1991, R.E.D. Center became a secondary Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP). A primary PSAP is where a police department or other PSAP initially receives the call. Those requiring Fire or EMS response are immediately transferred. This transfer process happens in approximately four seconds.
Early in 1998 based on the increase in calls and limited space available in Glenview, the Chiefs of the member departments began researching sites for a new facility. The new facility in Northbrook, Illinois, which began operations in December of 2001, dramatically increases the size, expandability, and functionality of the operation. The new building contains four fully functional workstations, each using a PC based phone system by T.C.I, a PC based radio system using the Motorola Centracom Gold Elite System, and a Computer Aided Dispatch (C.A.D.) system provided by Cross Current. The C.A.D. system was moved into the building from the old facility. Everything else was new with the facility. This new facility provides the staff with such amenities as a kitchen, locker room, and break room. This makes this self-sufficient and secure facility one in which the employee’s are happy to be in.
R.E.D. Center has a professional staff of eight full time alarm operators and a number of part-time alarm operators. The dispatch office is staffed twenty-four hours a day, with a minimum of two alarm operators per shift. These alarm operators are also certified in Emergency Medical Dispatch. This allows the alarm operators to provide key medical assistance in an emergency, including pre-arrival instructions for CPR, choking, & childbirth. The Illinois Department of Public Health recognized R.E.D. Center as the FIRST dispatch center certified to perform E.M.D. and the alarm operators achieved a greater then 97% accuracy level. The scoring system is through an independent evaluation of the daily calls.
This level of excellence is a testament to each of the alarm operators; who have an average of over fourteen years experience as dispatchers. This has been either at R.E.D. Center or other agencies before becoming part of the operation. Director James P. Clausen manages this staff of professionals. Director Clausen recently took over as director after serving twenty years as a member of the staff. Director Clausen was instrumental in the opening of the new facility in Northbrook, Illinois.
In addition to the duties listed above, R.E.D Center serves as the headquarters for Division III of the Mutual Aid Box Alarm System (M.A.B.A.S). Division III is made up of seventeen fire departments in the area north of Chicago and immediately west of Lake Michigan. The purpose of M.A.B.A.S. is to provide immediate extra staff and equipment to the scene of any emergency with prearranged “box alarm” cards. The alarm operators at R.E.D. Center will use these cards to summon the necessary agencies. All radio communication and additional requests are coordinated by R.E.D. Center.
The staff of the dispatch office is also responsible for the coordination of any suburban response into the City of Chicago for any incident north of North Avenue, as well as any suburban response to an incident at O’Hare International Airport.
The R.E.D. Center staff was recently recognized for excellence in the field by the State of Illinois. They were chosen to serve as the single dispatch center for the coordination of any statewide response for Fire, EMS, Hazardous Materials, & Special Rescue Teams. At the direction of the State of Illinois Governor’s office, R.E.D. Center will coordinate the response of these units to any natural or man-made disaster and any incident of domestic terrorism.
Since 1977, R.E.D. Center has established itself as an effective, cost efficient operation, coupled with sound management and a professional staff dedicated to protecting the people in their neighborhood. The progressive minded Board of Directors and Joint Chiefs Authority continue to lay the groundwork for additional improvements that will insure R.E.D. Center’s movement into a sound a prosperous future.