Merced County 9-1-1 dispatchers will be moving

MERCED, Calif.

Dispatchers will tell you every second counts when they're helping 9-1-1 callers during emergencies. But county administrators say the electrical systems in the decades old building are at full capacity, and the communications equipment often trips the breakers.

Dispatcher Monica Workman said, "There's just a lot of cords and wires and things short out easily."

Safety is also a concern because the staff has to enter and exit the building through the public lobby. But all of that is expected to change when the sheriff's office dispatch center moves to a multi-use facility at Castle Airport. The room is empty now but should be move in ready by August.

"There's a lot of benefits," said Merced County Sheriff Tom Cavallero. "One it's more secure for the dispatchers and for the technology. It will support the technology we have now in the 21st century that the current facility doesn't."

The building underwent major renovations last year to become the county's emergency operations center. It's also home to the Merced County Fire Department's administrative headquarters.

Sheriff Tom Cavallero said, "It's state of the art and happens to be located on castle so if supplies or support personnel need to be moved in or out of there, it is literally yards from a very large runway."

The board of supervisors approved the move earlier this month. Chairwoman Deidre Kelsey believes the new facility is necessary and will improve efficiency, but it comes with a price.

"We received a couple of different grants," said Kelsey. "We're still short some dollars, about a million dollars we need in equipment, and most of that is for computer upgrades and equipment upgrades. Not sure exactly where all of that is going to come from. I'm sure we'll have that discussion soon."

The county is planning to use the current dispatch center as a back-up once the dispatchers move to the new facility.

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