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Arlington County 9-1-1 meets workspace, heat and noise level objectives with Matrox Extio™ remote graphics units

Unique graphics and I/O extension technology provides emergency communications operators greater workspace, comfort and much quieter working environment

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"The ability to separate each CAD workstation from the operator consoles by a single fiber-optic cable, as well as the advanced multi-display support and image quality made possible with this device, were key factors in determining our selection of this technology. The Extio F1400 RGUs have helped us to meet one of our goals for this 24/7 operation—to design a more comfortable work environment within which to maximize productivity."
Roger Waller, CAD Systems Manager, Technology Specialist, Arlington County Office of Emergency Management – Public Safety Emergency Communications Center

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Matrox Extio PCI transmitter cards are installed in systems located in a temperature controlled room down the hall from the ECC. An RGU can be located up to 820ft (250m) away from the host PC.

Home to a very significant installation: The Pentagon, into which a hijacked plane slammed on September 11th, 2001, killing 184, Arlington County began answering
9-1-1 calls in its new Emergency Communications Center (ECC) on May 20th, 2008. This is the first significant upgrade since 1993, bringing state-of-the-art technology and enhanced capabilities to Arlington County. An 8,000-square-foot facility, this new ECC provides 9-1-1, police, fire, and emergency medical dispatch services to Arlington County, as well as 9-1-1, fire, and emergency medical dispatch services to the city of Falls Church, Virginia.

"This new center will assist us as we continue to ensure all first responders are provided the best possible service from our emergency communications personnel."
Robert P. Griffin, Jr. Director, Office of Emergency Management

The Arlington County ECC is committed to maintaining a 3-minute response time to those who live, work, play and visit the County. The improved capacity and capabilities of this new center include:

  • More 9-1-1 lines: The number of 9-1-1 lines has tripled from 16 to 48 to increase call capacity
  • Ergonomic workstations: Number of ergonomically designed call taking workstations virtually doubled from 16 to 30
  • Reduced noise levels: The ceiling and lighting systems are designed to reduce noise, through a combination of concave and convex reflective panels
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Matrox Extio F1400 remote graphics units (RGUs) provide extra security and reliability to each CAD workstation by powering four operator screens, keyboard and mouse apart from each computer. All PCs are housed in a dedicated, temperature controlled room down the hall. The fact that each CAD system is now removed from the operator stations saves considerable space at each desk, not to mention removes a noisy computer that emits heat, and allows system administrators to access and maintain the systems without disturbing the dispatchers' working environment.

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All ECC employees are trained and certified as Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMD). ECC dispatchers have "delivered" at least three babies by giving instructions over the phone, using EMD

  • Funding for new ECC and the new radio system totals approximately $38.0 million. Primary funding came from bonds issued by Arlington's Industrial Development Authority — $33.4 million.
  • Grant funding was provided by the State and Local Emergency Preparedness (SLEP) program (U.S.Dept. of Justice) — $2.6 million. Additional funding was provided by Arlington's Pay-As-You-Go capital program — $2.0 million.
  • Cost of the new ECC is approximately $9.6 million, including construction costs; furniture; video capabilities; cabling; 9-1-1 software and equipment; and technology equipment, including computer-aided dispatch. Cost of the new digital radio system is approximately $18 million.
  • In 2007, the ECC processed over 458,000 phone calls.
  • All ECC employees are trained and certified as Emergency Medical Dispatchers (EMD) so they can provide pre-arrival instructions to callers. These instructions include CPR and the Heimlich maneuver. It is through the use of EMD that ECC dispatchers have been credited with saving lives, receiving a Life Saving Award.

History

When Arlington County's Emergency Communications Center (ECC) merged its Police and Fire/EMS dispatching functions in 1980, it became one of the first consolidated, fully civilian staffed, and cross trained centers in the country. In 1993, the ECC moved from its home in the Police Department building to 1400 North Uhle Street where it remained unchanged until today.

In an effort to provide Arlington County with the highest level of emergency preparedness for its citizens and visitors, County Manager Ron Carlee established the Office of Emergency Management (OEM) in April 2003. Due to the importance of communications to manage emergencies, the ECC was included in the development of the OEM.

Fueled by the need for more space to accommodate a new radio system that allows for increased interoperability, and the ever increasing demands on the ECC as part of the OEM, the need for a new communications center became evident.

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