“Always there . . . always ready” was the theme of the talk given at the FHLC meeting on June 5 by Roy Oliver, Assistant Director, Support Services Bureau of the Department of Public Safety Communications (DPSC). Also known as Fairfax County 9-1-1, the DPSC is a nationally recognized public safety communications center, the largest in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of the ten largest in the United States. The Department receives nearly 1 million calls requesting public safety service per year and dispatches units of the Fairfax County Police Department, Fire and Rescue Department and Sheriff’s Office. In addition to Fairfax County, DPSC is the designated 9-1-1 public safety answering point (PSAP) for the towns of Herndon and Vienna and the City of Fairfax located in the C
Located at 4890 Alliance Drive (near the intersection of US Route 29 and West Ox Road) in the McConnell Public Safety and Transportation Operations Center building, the new facility has 12,000 square feet of space encompassing 94 work stations, 72 of which are dedicated to Fairfax County. There is a fitness room which encourages employees to work out after hours of sitting in a stressful occupation. There is an outdoor court yard, kitchen and dining facilities. Employees work 12.5 hour shifts. Every other week each employee has a three-day weekend.ounty.
Eligible employees must have a high school education and pass a background check. There is basic training for 10 weeks, followed by 8 to 12 weeks on the floor. At this point an employee is then “cut loose to become a call taker.” Additional training is required for police and fire dispatchers. Many staff members speak Spanish. There is an ATT language line with 160 different languages available. There are two daytime and two midnight squads. Approximately 37 to 43 people are assigned to each of the four squads.
Fairfax County 9-1-1 receives approximately 400,000 emergency calls and 420,000 non-emergency calls each year. Ninety-three percent of all emergency calls received are answered within ten seconds. Additionally, it monitors approximately 1,000,000 police events and 200,000 fire and rescue/EMS events yearly.
The concept of 9-1-1 was first introduced in the United Kingdom in 1937, using the number 999. U.S. military personnel were introduced to the concept when stationed in the U.K. during World War II. On February 16, 1968, the first 9-1-1 call in the U.S. was made from Haleyville, Alabama near Birmingham. In 1981, Fairfax County adopted 9-1-1. In 2005, the Department of Public Safety Communications was established after previously being a component of the Fairfax County Police Department. Fairfax County 9-1-1 is a National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) 9-1-1 Call Center Partner.
Please remember: Call 9-1-1 only when there is a life or death emergency that requires the immediate assistance of emergency service, such as the police, paramedics, and Fire Department.
When there is a situation that requires police response but is not an emergency, call 703-691-2131 (non-emergency phone number).
Roy L. Oliver is an Assistant Director for the Department of Public Safety Communications. He leads the Finance, Human Resources and IT Divisions as well as the Quality Assurance, Records and Curriculum and Policy Development Sections of the DPSC. Mr. Oliver has been with the agency for 22 years, beginning as a Call Taker and Dispatcher. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice from George Mason University.