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Jefferson County

The lifeline between community and first responders

New Jeffco communications center ready in January

JeffCom Training Manager Bess Joyce looks over the equipment to be used in the new facility in West Metro Fire’s admin building at 433 S. Allison Parkway in Lakewood. The center includes 42 work stations for dispatchers and 911 call takers.
JeffCom Training Manager Bess Joyce looks over the equipment to be used in the new facility in West Metro Fire’s admin building at 433 S. Allison Parkway in Lakewood. The center includes 42 work stations for dispatchers and 911 call takers.
Christy Steadman

One thing that people hope they never have to do is call 911.

“But when they do, we’re here to make sure they get what they need for safety and quality of life,” said Jeff Streeter, the executive director of JeffCom 911.

JeffCom 911 is the consolidation of several Jefferson County public safety and emergency dispatch services to one centralized location.

“Services won’t change,” Streeter said. “All we did was centralize — bring everyone under one roof.”

Currently, all Jefferson County’s emergency dispatch service employees are employed by and work at their agency’s centers. But come the first of the year, all of themwill have the option to become JeffCom 911 employees, housed at the new facility located inside the West Metro Fire’s admin building at 433 S. Allison Parkway in Lakewood.

“The consolidation of services to better serve the people and to be more fiscally responsible with the funds generated by their tax dollars, have been the two main goals throughout this entire process,” said Lakewood Police Chief Dan McCasky. “The Lakewood Police Department shares a common belief with our JeffCom partners that receiving calls for service and dispatching needed assistance from one central location, will no doubt save time, money and even lives.”  

An estimated 147 employees will work at JeffCom, including 911 call takers, dispatchers, tech support and team managers and supervisors.

The end result, Streeter said, will provide efficient and effective quality service for both the community and first responders — law enforcement, firefighters and emergency medical personnel. Non-emergency phone numbers will not change, however those calls will also come to the JeffCom hub.

“Agencies always need to explore ways for regionalization,” Streeter said. And “the technology exists for us to do this.”

JeffCom 911’s eight member agencies are Arvada Fire, Arvada Police, Evergreen Fire Rescue, Golden Police, Lakewood Police, Jefferson County Sheriff, Wheat Ridge Police and West Metro Fire Protection. JeffCom will also serve 15smaller emergency response agencies, including the majority of the mountain fire agencies and the reamining police departments in the county except Westminster.

The first transition date is in February for Golden’s fire and police departments, West Metro Fire Protection and the Jeffco Sheriff’S Department. Arvada’s fire and police departments and Wheat Ridge Police will transition in March. The final two agencies, Lakewood Police and Evergreen Fire Rescue, will transition in April.

Initial discussions began about five years ago, Streeter said, and an agreement between all the JeffCom partner agencies went into effect June last year.

The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office expects that JeffCom will help to reduce response times on priority one calls, such as life threatening medical emergencies, crimes in progress and serious automobile accidents, said Sheriff Jeff Shrader. Each responding agency will be dispatched from the same location, he added, thereby eliminating the need and additional time for call transfers to another agency.

“When each first responder from law enforcement, fire and EMS is provided information directly from the dispatch center where the call originated,” Shrader said, “less risk of confusion and delay will result in a better outcome.”

West Metro Fire Rescue Chief Don Lombardi agrees.

“We make a difference through response times — how fast we can get our crews to a fire, a medical emergency, a hazardous materials incident, a technical rescue,” he said. “And we rely on our dispatchers to get our firefighters out the door.”

In the case of a large incident, such as a wildland fire where residents need to be evacuated, Lombardi added, the decision-making process that triggers those notifications will be more streamlined and timely.

Construction of the center, which is nearly complete, cost about $6.5 million, Streeter said. It is funded by the Jefferson County Communications Center Authority.

There will be some cost savings associated with JeffCom, Streeter said. In 2015, it cost the eight partner agencies more than $18 million to provide separate emergency dispatch services, he said, adding that an estimated $2 million annual cost savings will come with JeffCom.

“Ultimately, JeffCom will provide a better service to our residents and visitors at a lower cost,” Shrader said of the central location.

Before, dispatch was always a subset or division within a police or fire department, but has always been equally responsible for the community’s safety, said JeffCom Training Manager Bess Joyce, currently the communication manager for Golden’s fire and police departments.

Dispatch is the “lifeline between the community and the first responders,” Joyce said. And now “we have the opportunity to create our own culture and be our own entity.”


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