Communications Division

Dispatcher Looking at a Map on His Computer Screen

Responsibilities

The Communications Division is a 24-hour operation and is a vital link from the residents and business owners in the town to the emergency personnel in the field. It answers over 30,000 calls for police, fire and EMS services per year. The communications center is the most vital link in the emergency services chain. Without it, when someone calls for help, no one would be there to respond.

In addition to training in all emergency service communications, communications personnel receive extensive training and become certified in Emergency Medical Dispatch (EMD). This certification enables them to provide medical instruction over the phone to a caller during a medical emergency.

Non-Emergencies

The Communications Division answers non-emergency calls for service as well. This can range from a routine complaint to a call for the Guilderland Animal Control. It can sometimes be a request for other services such as utility malfunctions (such as a power outage) where our telecommunicators notify the proper authority. In addition, their staff monitors fire and burglar alarms throughout the town and are responsible for building security at the town hall after hours.

Mobile Command Post

The Communications Division is also responsible for the mobile command post. This vehicle is utilized as an alternate communications center and dispatched to scenes of major incidents, helping isolate communications burdens associated with a larger incident by freeing up the main 911 center for additional emergencies.

Dispatcher at His Desk

Staff

The Communications Division is staffed with 11 full-time certified 911 telecommunicators. The professional communications staff remains available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your call.

Equipment

The telecommunicators, equipped with the computer-aided phone system, 911 mapping, and a computer-aided dispatch system (CAD), answer all 911 calls for two police agencies (Guilderland and Altamont), seven fire departments, Guilderland Emergency Medical Services (town paramedics, advanced life support) and 2 ambulance agencies. In some instances, surrounding areas are also covered such as North Bethlehem for Fire and EMS response, and the Town of Knox for EMS. Additionally, we serve as an alternate site for other public safety answering points in the County should their system become overloaded or fail due to technical difficulties. The communications center is equipped with Computer Aided Dispatch capabilities. It is shared with the City of Albany as well as other capital district police agencies. This is an integral part in the sharing of information as expected in homeland security issues.

When to Call 911

When you call 911, be prepared to answer the call-taker's questions, which may include:

  • The location of the emergency, including the street address
  • The phone number you are calling from
  • The nature of the emergency
  • Details about the emergency, such as a physical description of a person who may have committed a crime, a description of any fire that may be burning, or a description of injuries or symptoms being experienced by a person having a medical emergency

Remember, the call-taker's questions are important to get the right kind of help to you quickly. Be prepared to follow any instructions the call-taker gives you. Many 911 centers can tell you exactly what to do to help in an emergency until help arrives, such as providing step-by-step instructions to aid someone who is choking or needs first aid or CPR. Finally, do not hang up until the call-taker instructs you to.

911 Reminders

In an emergency, call 911 immediately from any wired or wireless phone.

An emergency is any situation that requires immediate assistance from the police, fire department, or ambulance. Examples include:

  • A fire
  • A crime, especially if in progress
  • A car crash, especially if someone is injured
  • A medical emergency, such as someone who is unconscious, gasping for air or not breathing, experiencing an allergic reaction, having chest pain, having uncontrollable bleeding, or any other symptoms that require immediate medical attention

Importantly, if you're not sure whether the situation is a true emergency, officials recommend calling 911 and letting the call-taker determine whether you need emergency help.