Prince George’s students head back to school

26 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Prince George’s County, Md., builds NG911-ready communications center, public-safety complex.

Renee Roth welcomed each child who walked into her classroom Tuesday at Tulip Grove Elementary School. —Prince George’s County public-safety communications once was labeled as the “donut hole” in the center of radio communications interoperability in the Washington, D.C. region, but that is no longer the case. A partnership with Motorola Solutions provided the agency with interoperable, first-responder-conscious radio equipment and a state-of-the-art facility that have transformed the county into one of the premier 911 communications agencies in the D.C. area with future expansion plans.

Those expansion plans include construction of a public-safety complex in Landover, Md., which will house the county’s new 911 backup center and the county’s Office of Homeland Security. As Prince George’s County began another school year, she was once again before a class in the school system that hired her in 1985, just after college. She never really wanted to leave, she said, and still loves teaching — first-day apprehensions and all. “There’s that jitteriness and nervousness because you don’t know the kids that well and you don’t know what the year’s going to hold,” she said.

With the bus schedules, he says that it does “sometimes take a little bit of time to get the schedules right when school first starts, because traffic patterns change,” but that so far things are running smoothly. In Prince George’s, home to Maryland’s second-largest school system, officials projected that the district will enroll at least 129,000 students, up by more than 1,400 since last year.

The $35 million center spans 40,000 feet, includes 63 dispatch stations for 911 call-takers and fire, EMS, 911 and law-enforcement dispatchers, along with 21 days of generator power and equipment that primarily comes from Motorola Solutions. The team will implement Motorola Solutions’ computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system by the end of the year. “We threw them [Motorola Solutions] into the 911 world,” Flaherty said. “They jumped into the 50-foot end of the pool. In recent years, she has taught reading to her assigned class and science to all three classes of third-graders. “It’s so much more kid-centric now,” she said. It’s been really excellent.” In addition to providing technology support, Motorola tuned into the practical needs of Prince George’s staff with other final touches, according to county officials.

The center includes a training room with communications stations—a feature that has reduced training times and improved the preparedness of new call-takers, Flaherty said. The breakroom features a full-service, stainless-steel equipped kitchen and oversized reclining chairs for the dispatchers, who clock 10 to 12-hour shifts. It’s ‘What do they need from me,’ not ‘What do I need from them?’ ” Thirty years after she started, she says she is more aware of the growing number of students who are learning English or live in families affected by poverty.

The facility adds a level of comfort, but also efficiency, for the employees on the frontline of saving lives, said Tracey Savoy, a senior emergency dispatch aid for Prince George’s 911 who has worked as a 911 dispatcher for eight years. She keeps close tabs on children who are taking classes for those learning the English language, she says, and keeps cookies and crackers on hand for the occasional snack to give students as they work.

Before the rebuild, the stations had fewer screens and less mapping capabilities, she said. “It helps, because we have two screens for maps to match up, if someone’s doesn’t know where they are,” Savoy said. “We actually have three maps and two screens for maps. It really is much better.” Customer input determined most of the design of the facility, said Michael Leonard, Mid-Atlantic territory vice president for Motorola Solutions.

Sometimes it’s what she calls an “a-ha moment,” when an idea really gets through. “That’s the best part of teaching — when their faces are like, ‘I figured it out!’ ” she said. “You get a lot of that in third grade. Prince George’s forethought to partner with the telecommunications provider is a successful example in providing top-notch emergency communications that other agencies—within the region and nationally—can model, Leonard said. “Prince George’s [officials] are true thought leaders in mission-critical communications and how to work with their partners, how to make their solutions on an integrated platform and, effectively, make the jobs for their first responders easier, more effective and essentially getting the pertinent information on incidents at the right time and in the right folks’ hands.” When the principal announced that it was time for dismissal, she found herself thinking, “What?” By then, she said, her own jitters were long forgotten — and it seemed the children’s were, too. “I got hugs from many of them, and they left with smiles on their faces,” she said.

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