Emergency Communications Center Makes Debut


(Friday, May 16, 2008 12:17 PM EDT)

Arlington's new Emergency Communications Center is ready for action.

Unveiled at a May 16 ribbon-cutting, the much-anticipated center is slated to begin receiving incoming 911 calls on May 20.

“This is a celebration,” said Robert Griffin Jr., director of the county government's Office of Emergency Management (OEM). “It's a new day for communication.”

The new facility features an $18 million digital radio system - Arlington is the first jurisdiction in the region to go digital - which increases capacity and coverage.

The 8,800-square-foot center has 30 work stations and 48 phone lines for emergency calls, compared to the old facility's 16 work stations and 16 phone lines.

Fourteen 50-inch monitors form a video wall that will allow OEM personnel to monitor a variety of feeds simultaneously, including traffic cameras, security cameras and eight television stations.

The hope is that, with the center's improvements in design and technology, staff will have the tools to be able to respond to a catastrophic event like the 2001 attack on the Pentagon.

“We know about emergencies right here,” County Board Chairman Walter Tejada said at the ribbon-cutting. “Now we have a first-class facility for a first-class team.”

The center's total cost was around $38 million, and was funded primarily by bonds issued by Arlington's Industrial Development Authority.

And while those involved with the project were very thankful for the support of residents, the County Board and other partners, special tribute was paid to the OEM staff who work in the ECC day in and day out.

“We are grateful to [OEM's staff] for their dedicated service,” Tejada said. “Thank you for keeping Arlington safe.”

Robert Griffin Jr., right, director of the county government's Office of Emergency Management, thanks project manager John Stevens for all his work in the new Emergency Communications Center.
(Photo by Kristen Armstrong)

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