In early November of 1973, Escambia County opened the Emergency Dispatch Center in the old road prison that was located at the corner of “L” Street and Fairfield Drive. Eight emergency dispatchers (two per shift) received emergency calls for fire and medical emergencies. 911 was not an established number, so citizens dialed seven-digit numbers when they had an emergency. The ambulance service at the time was also a private company, Northwest Florida Ambulance Service, and the fire departments were all volunteer.
The first 911 call was received in Escambia County in January 1979. By this time, the Emergency Communications Center had moved to the basement of the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office. Initially the 911 system did not provide caller information. In 1985, the system was upgraded to Enhanced 911 allowing dispatchers to receive the telephone number and address of the calling number. Calls were dispatched from a Motorola radio console with a Plectron encoder.
The Emergency Communications Center moved to the Public Safety building on North “W” Street in January of 2005. The Public Safety building houses Escambia County Fire/Rescue, Escambia County Emergency Medical Services, Escambia County Emergency Management, Escambia County Emergency Communications and the Emergency Operations Center.
January 1, 2014, marked the 40th anniversary of Escambia County Communications. Our center and profession has seen many changes. Our dispatchers undergo rigorous training, are licensed by the Department of Health and hold certifications as Emergency Medical Dispatchers and Emergency Fire Dispatchers. We have state-of-the-art equipment including: Motorola P-25 Digital/Conventional radio, 9-1-1 Vesta 4.0, EnRoute CAD with Integrated Mapping Automatic Vehicle Location for EMS and Fire, Integrated Mobile Data Terminals, MARVLIS call analysis software and more.
We wouldn’t be where we are today without the support of prior administrators, staff, and most importantly, the citizens of Escambia County. Here’s to the next 40 years and the continuation of excellent service to our citizens and responders!