Aroostook County dispatch center receives $150,000 worth of upgrades

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HOULTON, Maine (WAGM) - It's equipment that needs to be in working order 24/7, 365 days a year.

"Dispatchers, they are first line and if they have poor equipment to work with it makes their job so much harder," said Acting Aroostook County Sheriff Shawn Gillen.

Recently the dispatch center underwent $150,000 worth of upgrades.

"Radio communications came in, they completely upgraded our dispatch hardware and software, they upgraded our communications with fiber optics."

The town of Madawaska approached the sheriff's office dispatch center to see about them taking on the roll and covering that area.

"In order to do that we had to look at our own system and see what we needed to do to be able to accommodate another agency."

Madawaska was using a private company to do dispatching, but that company is no longer providing them with that service

"That contract with Madawaska is going to be around $40,000 a year to provide their dispatching and it will add about 5,000 calls to our current 13,000 call volume," said Aroostook County Administrator Ryan Pelletier. "We'll be right around 18 thousand calls a year for dispatching."

Pelletier said earlier this summer, the proposal for the upgrades was brought before the county commissioners who approved the money needed for this work.

"An individual town to staff a dispatch center alone with equipment and 24 hour coverage, 365 days a year, is extremely expensive. You're looking at probably in the neighborhood of 150-200 thousand dollars a year for one town to have a full-time dispatching center. They can contract with us at a fraction of that price and have that service provided to them."

In addition to the equipment upgrades, one more full time dispatcher will be hired. Right now this center provides dispatch services to 15 fire departments, three police departments and two ambulance services.

Gillen added that while they are not actively seeking other communities to join, they are open to the idea.

An idea that will now be made easier with these improvements.