By Lori Fullbright, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Tulsa's new 911 Center is open for business. It's more secure and has the latest technology, which should make getting help to citizens in trouble, better and faster.
The old 911 Center was located above the parking garage of the main Tulsa Police Station downtown. It was vulnerable. Anyone could've parked a truck bomb underneath it and destroyed it. Plus, it was on the second and third floors and had a huge glass window that put it at risk during tornadoes and hail storms. Now, those problems are solved.
The new, state of art 911 Center in Tulsa is located near the EMSA Headquarters and the new Morton Health Center on North Lansing.
Getting in requires top security and the building made to withstand tornadoes, which is a critical concern in Oklahoma.
It's not just tornado proof, it was also built with terrorism in mind. It's surrounded by a concrete wall. There are huge fences and berms were built to keep unwanted visitors out. And, the building itself is bomb resistant and the glass is bulletproof.
Inside, call takers and dispatchers are already hard at work, answering emergency calls and getting citizens help. They made the move here on Wednesday.
The center has all new equipment and a new telephone system that will make calls more clear and in about six months, will allow dispatchers to find cell phone callers who need help.
'We're in the process of starting to test with the wireless companies so we can locate people calling 911 from a cell phone," said 911 Center Director John Hampton.
Another advantage for citizens is now EMSA and Tulsa Fire Department dispatchers are no longer sitting far apart. That proximity is critical for better communication and speedy response, since firefighters go on about 50% of EMSA's calls as first responders.
"Right now, we're together, so close we can actually reach across and touch a dispatcher from another agency and that will allow better service to the citizens," said EMSA's Tina Wells.
The new center also offers a quiet area just outside the operations center so dispatchers can take a break and decompress after a particularly stressful situation.
The 911 Center is short staffed right now and looking for dispatchers, so if you're the kind of person who can remain calm in a crisis and have a desire to help, you can apply with the City of Tulsa.