April 18, 2024 |

Photo – Dispatch center inside the Rawlins Police Department – by Matt Copeland Bigfoot99

The Rawlins Police Dispatch Center uses cutting edge technology to send emergency services where they’re needed.

April 14th through 20th is National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week. Bigfoot99 reporter Matt Copeland visited the Rawlins Police Dispatch Center to see how they keep people safe in Carbon County.

Rawlins Dispatch Supervisor Valeta Rodabaugh explained what happens when someone calls 911.

With a land line, the dispatcher can easily locate the caller and send help. However, Rawlins Police Chief Mike Ward said the proliferation of cell phones has made it harder to know exactly where someone is calling from. Chief Ward said the Rawlins Dispatch Center receives every 911 call and relays the information to the proper agencies.

The Federal Communications Commission has designated the Rawlins Police Department as the 911 Public Safety Answering Point for all of Carbon County. Chief Ward said calling 911 will always connect you to the nearest Public Safety Answering Point.

After taking an emergency call, the dispatcher’s job isn’t finished. Dispatch Supervisor Rodabaugh said she must remain in contact with all responding agencies to make sure they continue to receive the most up-to-date information about the incident.

Rodabaugh has been a dispatcher for 27 years. She said the job has changed a lot in that time. Computers have made sharing data much easier. However, cell phones introduced new challenges and opportunities. Using apps like Backcountry SOS, Rodabaugh said she can locate a caller within a 10-foot range.

Another new technology used in dispatching is text to 911. With the service, people can contact 911 via text. However, both Rodabaugh and Chief Ward said not to text during an emergency unless you are unable to call.

Rodabaugh said she uses a program called Rapid SOS to handle incoming emergency calls as well. Through the Rapid SOS service, Rodabaugh said she is able to get more accurate location information from cell phone users.

One of the most important new technologies the Rawlins Police Dispatch Center uses is called Rave Mobile Safety. Rodabaugh said users can opt in to Rave, allowing the program to send their medical and personal data directly to the 911 operator.

Rodabaugh pointed out that Rave does not share users’ personal data outside of the 911 call. Dispatchers also cannot access people’s information through Rave unless the person calls them.

A new tool in the Rawlins Dispatch Center’s arsenal is a program called Prepared Live 911. Rodabaugh said through Prepared Live, she is able to share videos and pictures with callers. The images captured through the program can be used in court. Rodabaugh said Prepared Live also offers real-time language translation software.

The Rawlins Dispatch Center isn’t the only facility in Carbon County using these technologies. With so much overlap between the county’s three emergency call centers, Carbon County Sheriff Alex Bakken has begun investigating the possibility of combining his department, Saratoga, and Rawlins dispatch centers into one agency. One issue Sheriff Bakken hasn’t entirely addressed is what happens if the single dispatch center goes down. Chief Ward said having a redundant dispatching center is necessary.

All three of Carbon County’s emergency dispatch centers are essential to keeping visitors and residents safe. Bigfoot99 would like to say thank you to every dispatcher during this National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week.

A link to the Rawlins Police Dispatch Center’s website showing the tools they use will be included with this story when it is posted to Bigfoot99.com later today.

Rawlins Police Dispatch Tools: https://www.rawlinswy.gov/1390/Dispatch-Tools

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