February 3, 2023
Public Safety Dispatch through NSR 911
By Gregory T. Federspiel
Efforts to create a smooth transition to dispatching our Police and Fire calls through the North Shore Regional 911 Center (NSR 911) have been underway since last August when the Select Board signed the Intermunicipal Agreement with NSR 911. Both Chiefs and their staff have been working closely with the staff at the Center to ensure that the new service is seamless to residents. A “to do” list of over 300 action items was generated with excellent progress being made to date. The work is ahead of schedule and the NSR 911 Center will begin dispatching local public safety calls starting March 1.
(It is fortunate for us that the Center can start earlier as one consequence of recent police reform laws that now requires reserve officers to have the same training as full-time officers is that reserves are moving on to full-time positions. This has resulted in a loss of dispatchers for the town. Our remaining dispatchers continue to do excellent work and will stay on through June for ongoing assistance with the transition.)
North Shore Regional 911 Center is a dual Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) and an operation that answers and directs 911 calls and requests for emergency assistance. The Center is a division of the Massachusetts State 911 Department, and their mission is to serve as the communications link between all citizens and public safety departments. For many years 911 calls made from a cell phone in Manchester were handled by the Center.
The North Shore Regional 911 Center, located at 18 Manning Avenue in Middleton, is an 11,000 sq. ft. facility featuring 17 answering terminals, two 500kW generators with uninterrupted power supply systems and is staffed by 31 highly trained telecommunicators. The NSR911 Center will answer all 911 emergency calls made within Manchester limits twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. The Center will also field non-emergency informational calls.
Alyson Dell Isola, NSR911 Director, and Christopher Ryan, NSR 911 Deputy Director, have provided excellent guidance as preparations have advanced for the transition to the Center. They have stayed on top of every single detail and have taken the initiative to provide extra redundancy and a more robust system of communications throughout town then originally planned (new radio transmission equipment, etc.)
Chief Fitzgerald and Chief Cleary have been able to ensure that the Center has all the needed information, including protocols that our staff follow, to allow the dispatchers to properly interact with our public safety personnel. For example, Property information, including local names and landmarks, have been entered into the computer aided dispatch system. GPS tracking of every call pinpoints the exact location. NSR 911 dispatchers are riding around town with our staff to become familiar with Manchester and our staff.
The Manchester Police Department lobby will continue to operate normally, 24/7, through June, 2023. The Select Board and Finance Committee are currently evaluating several models available to keep the lobby open for residents beyond this date.
If we have done our preparations correctly, and the Chiefs believe we have, a caller should not notice a difference when they call our public safety services starting March 1. To facilitate a full understanding of the new service, the NSR 911 Center will hold an open house at the Middleton facility to provide residents an opportunity to tour the facility and meet staff. A public forum will also be held in Manchester to allow residents to have any questions answered. Dates for these will be announced soon. For more information on the transition go the Town’s website or type in bit.ly/mbtsdispatc.