Currently, SouthCom Combined Dispatch Center (SouthCom) provides fire, police and emergency medical dispatching services for the villages of Park Forest, Olympia Fields, Matteson and Richton Park. The service area covers over 1,923 square miles within Cook and Will Counties and serves a population of approximately 65,000 citizens. SouthCom dispatched 65,155 calls for service and answered over 119,000 phone calls in 2010.
The Center is staffed by a Director, Deputy Director, and seventeen Telecommunicators, three of whom are Shift Commanders. These cross-trained Telecommunicators provide pre-arrival instructions to responding emergency personnel through an integrated Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system.
All of the Telecommunicators are certified in Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD) and provide pre-arrival “self-help” instructions to callers during medical emergencies.
Emergency instructions are given by these highly skilled Telecommunicators assisting the caller in life saving techniques such as CPR, airway management, bleeding control and the Heimlich Maneuver prior to the arrival of Fire-Medics. Telecommunicators will continue to talk to the caller throughout the emergency until help has arrived, continually assuring the caller that help is on the way.
SouthCom is equipped with the latest advances in emergency telecommunication technology. These systems include an Enhanced 9-1-1 System, which allows the location and phone number of the calling party to be displayed on the computer screen and is interfaced with the CAD system. Both landline and wireless calls are mapped on the CAD screen providing emergency responders additional real-time information as to the location of the caller and other critical information such as pre-incident planning documents, location of fire hydrants and call history for the location.
The intuitive nature of the CAD system then recommends what unit or units to dispatch based on response requirements for each call type in the system. These response recommendations were established by the Chief’s to provide an appropriate level of equipment and personnel to every incident. The real-time information residing in CAD is then transmitted to each responding unit via radio and their mobile data terminals which are equipped in every responding unit.
Using Global Positioning System (GPS) technology, our CAD system knows where every piece of fire equipment is at all times commonly referred to as “AVL” or Automatic Vehicle Location. This technology gives the Telecommunicators precise information about the unit’s distance from the call. All of these capabilities give our personnel additional situational awareness about the emergency and, as a result, improve Firefighter/Officer safety and performance.