Here’s Just a Few to Think on:
The Beaufort County Dispatch Center has many of its own internal policies, rules and regulations. We are very stringent with our guidelines; after all, we are in the business of saving lives. Dispatching can be a very fulfilling career. Knowing that you made a difference, helped save a life, or calmly walked someone through a crisis situation can be very rewarding, and stressful! Yes, being a Dispatcher can be extremely stressful at times! We must deal with people verbally in high stress situations and sometimes life or death situations. Dispatchers must be able to remain calm to do their jobs.
Dispatchers must have a clear, distinct speaking voice and have good hearing in both ears. They must be able to follow complex oral and / or written instructions, and have good typing skills. The Beaufort County Dispatch Center works on 12-hour shifts, with 48 full-time dispatcher positions.
During hurricane operations, or other catastrophic events, our dispatchers must be able to remain at the Center around the clock if necessary. Since 1989, we activated the Center several times for hurricane operations, requiring a few overnight stays.
Each of our dispatchers have multiple computers and must work a minimum of six monitors at a time. One monitor shows incoming 911 calls, the location of the caller, and the physical address of the caller. A second monitor displays a Computer Aided Dispatch system (CAD), which logs all calls. The system is able to keep up with responders' statuses, it recommends available units to send to the call, and it even reminds the dispatcher of pending or overdue calls. The third monitor displays a mapping system of Beaufort County and runs a recording device. When a 911 call comes in, the mapping computer pinpoints the caller’s location. The dispatcher is able to give directions to the callers location based on this enhanced mapping system. The additional monitors assists with other services as well.
Geographically, Beaufort County is surrounded by hundreds of small islands and a lot of water. Our center receives a significant number of emergency calls from boaters in distress throughout the year. One of the newer capabilities of cell phone technology allows us to receive longitude/latitude information from cell phones, which in turn gives us the ability to send rescue units out into rivers, marshes or even the ocean to assist citizens. This only works with the newer models of cell phones, however. You may want to check with your cell phone company to confirm that your cell phone has this capability.
One of the agencies that plays an essential role in our day-to-day operations is SLED. They participate in the Nationwide Law Enforcement Network and exchange law enforcement information with all 50 states, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Service, the Department of Justice, the Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Virgin Islands, etc. SLED maintains all criminal history information for the South Carolina and maintains all relays to all states and Canada for criminal history checks for all other states.
SLED also maintains all Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) files for South Carolina and maintains all the relays to all states and Canada for their DMV files.
SLED allows access to the FBI files for criminal histories, wanted persons, missing persons, unidentified persons, stolen vehicles, parts and license plates, stolen guns, stolen securities, stolen articles, stolen boats, felony vehicles, protection orders, violent gang and terrorist organization files, fraudulent check identifications and sex offenders. Through these databases, Law Enforcement officers (this includes Dispatch Centers) may make inquiries to these files whenever warranted.
The County’s Communications Department is very proactive in their efforts to educate residents, school kids, visitors, etc. regarding the proper use of 9-1-1, and how to obtain help during emergencies. We are always looking for opportunities to speak at schools, job fairs, community events, etc. If you would like for us to speak at an event, give us a call (843-255-4015). We will be happy to accommodate you.
The Beaufort County Communications Department also works closely with the three local military establishments (the Marine Corps Air Station, Parris Island Recruit Depot, and the Naval Hospital). There are automatic aid agreements in place for fire service with the Naval Hospital upon request; and EMS services with the Air Station and Laurel Bay.
As a matter of fact, the County’s Emergency Management Division (the Communications Department being inclusive), frequently takes part in joint training and exercises with all three bases.