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By Eugen Hul

The Communication Center's beginning started well prior to consolidation in 1984. It has been known as Civil Defense, Medcom (Medical Communication) and then as the Alarm Office. On December 15, 1981, the enhanced 911 phone system came to Palm Beach County. Palm Beach County was the second in the nation to implement this system, which provided critical information regarding the location of the emergency. Only a couple of the districts dispatched their own calls prior to consolidation of the 12 independent fire control districts into a centralized dispatch center in 1986.

The existing building at 3723 Belvedere Road was built in 1982, two years prior to consolidation. This building housed the Division of Emergency Medical Services and Medcom. It took another year after consolidation to merge the respective fire departments and Medcom into a centralized dispatch center. The goal was to centralize the incoming calls, and the dispatching of emergency units both fire and ambulance. In August 1985, the first fire dispatch radio console was moved in to begin the transition to a centralized center.

In October 1985, the Computer Aided Dispatch system went on-line. Prior to the computer system, dispatchers used case cards to track the calls and the units assigned to them. In 1986, the last department was added to the system and Medcom was renamed Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Alarm Office.

Fire dispatch started out with only two radio channels and a staff of about 12 people. It now has 11 radio channels used by the department not including the medical channels used by the paramedics and a staff of about 41.

In 1987, the first Fire Operations Officer took his place in the Alarm Office. The purpose was to provide technical assistance during multi company operations. In July of 1988, it became obvious that the building had become too small and the trailer was added onto the east side of the building.

February 1990, we saw the implementation of the Advanced Medical Priority Dispatch System (EMD). The principle concept behind EMD is to provide critical information to the caller to assist the patient while rescue is responding. Prior to consolidation, EMD was provided under the direction of Dr. Volrath. After consolidation and prior to Medical Priority, the call was turned over to an EMT or a Paramedic to provide instruction.

Since the beginning of Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Alarm Office in 1982, many changes and advances were made and are still being planned. The ever-changing environment that we live in, brings with it new and exciting changes. One of the best changes is the long overdue building that we will be moving into in 1999 and a new beginning for Palm Beach County Fire Rescue Communication Center.

For the Communicators of Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, the long awaited dream becomes reality on March 16, 1999. The new Communication Center is powered up and we start to serve the citizens and visitors of Palm Beach County. New equipment, ideas, and challenges will come to life. The professionalism of the Communicators will shine, as we take on the challenge of the opportunities put forth in front of us. With determination and pride we accept these challenges and look too the future of Palm Beach County.