Pima County first responders get new communications center - Tucson News Now

County first responders begin operations in new communications center

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Pima County now has an effective digital radio system that supports 33 public safety agencies, eight hospitals and 20 non-public safety departments.

The idea came after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and the project was approved by voters in 2004. 

The 63,000 square foot building is located on Tucson's south side, where construction began in 2011 and was completed in 2012.  The Pima Emergency Communications Center has two main functions.

One is as the public safety dispatch for the Pima County Sheriff's Department and Sahuarita. It is also the dispatch for several fire departments and 'backup' dispatch for both Tucson and South Tucson Police Departments. 

A second function is as an emergency operations center, also located in the new building.  The center can be activated during large scale disasters in Southern Arizona.  If the center had been finished during the Jan. 8 shooting, it would have been activated. 

Another key part of the project is radio communication between law enforcement agencies and fire departments the new center now makes this much easier. According to PCSD all it takes is the flip of a switch.    

The new system has also already been put to work. 

"We had a SWAT call up in Oro Valley two weeks ago. ... All of the operators talking to one another on one radio system with having to carry two different radios," said Capt. Paul Wilson, from the Pima County Sheriff's Department.

The facility is designed to serve multiple functions for a minimum of 20 years.

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