Washington County leaders held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Monday, April 24 to mark the opening of a new county dispatch center.
Housing the Washington County Consolidated Communications Agency (WCCCA) emergency dispatch center, the building, located on NE Pinefarm Court in Hillsboro, replaces an older Tanasbourne facility. The new building is purpose-built to handle the needs of the emergency communications technology infrastructure that underpins the county’s communication between fire, police, EMS, and other emergency service needs.
The building is also designed to withstand a major earthquake, like a potential Cascadia event.
“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity, made possible by the voters and taxpayers of Washington County, to build this critical component of our emergency telecommunications system,” said Board Chair Kathryn Harrington during the ceremony.
“This Washington County owned dispatch center is the backbone of that system and carefully designed to maintain continuity of operations in the midst of almost any situation, allowing our first responders to react quickly and effectively when the community needs us the most.”
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“The new dispatch center is a real game-changer for us. In addition to technology upgrades, we now have redundant building systems and assurance that we can maintain operations immediately following a seismic event,” said WCCCA Director Mark Buchholz. “In addition to the typical office and mechanical spaces, we’re really pleased that the building also includes a small gym and a quiet room to support the health and wellness of our staff who work long hours under extremely challenging conditions.”
Voters approved a bond measure in 2016 totaling $77 million to fund the new dispatch center, among other improvements. The dispatch center cost totaled about $26 million.
The opening of the center is one of at least three recent events that WCCCA has seen that could improve the county’s emergency dispatch system.
In addition to the center opening, WCCCA was also the recipient of a grant from the Oregon Department of Emergency Management to purchase a Snowcat—a tracked vehicle designed to travel over snowy surfaces—in April.
“The SPIRE Grant provides practical equipment to help save lives and property during emergencies by allowing for a more efficient response at the local level,” said OEM Grants Coordinator Carole Sebens in an April 25 press release. “Oregon Department of Emergency Management is prioritizing filling gaps in communities across Oregon to ensure our partners have the equipment they need to respond to emergencies and disasters that may impact their region.”
Finally, WCCCA’s radio and communications equipment, some of which is located in the mountains north of Buxton, will soon be easier to reach.
Washington County recently moved forward on a project to rehabilitate a rural road that will provide easier access to a WCCCA radio tower.