ERMA – Cape May County Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Central Dispatch in the Lower Township Public Safety Building officially opened Oct. 23, 2018.
The hope was that municipal police, fire and emergency management in the county would sign on one-by-one to the system and lower the cost of running the facility for all involved.
That hope has become a reality as the latest municipal police department, Wildwood Crest, has been added to the roles of Lower Township Police Department and Lower, Stone Harbor and Avalon emergency medical services (EMS).
Office of Emergency Management Director Martin Pagliughi said Wildwood Crest would be fully integrated into the system throughout May.
“Dispatchers were in May 7 for training and they will be online shortly after that,” Pagliughi said.
As more municipalities sign up for central dispatch, the price goes down. Pagliughi said the service comes with cost savings from doing their own dispatch.
Bringing a municipality online can take four to six months, Pagliughi said, and training isn’t possible during the summer.
“It would take six or seven years to get the whole county onboard, but we’ll do it. Some municipalities are waiting to see how this works out. They’re being cautious,” he explained.
Central dispatch began operation in the facility in early June 2018 in anticipation of hurricane season. Communication systems were tested over the summer, with the countywide CodeRed system (http://bit.ly/2QnFKIl) going online in August. CodeRed is available to anyone with a smartphone who loads the app. They will be alerted of upcoming storm events.
OEM has become the first in the region to implement a next-generation 911 emergency telephone response service.
According to a county release, the implementation of the new RapidSOS NG911 Clearinghouse Program allows the Cape May County Dispatch Center to pinpoint the location of a 911 cellular call to within 150 feet of the caller, instead of to the nearest cellular phone tower.
As part of the Next-Gen 911 system, residents can text their emergencies to the center.
Pagliughi said the system allows dispatchers to track emergency vehicles on a screen and can help them pinpoint a location.