In February, the municipalities of Fairfield and Westport opened the 911 Dispatch Center at Sacred Heart, the first in the state to combine two towns with an outside partner.
Located on the lower level of the Ryan Matura library, the new Westport-Fairfield dispatch center streamlines calls and creates faster communication services with emergency dispatch teams around Fairfield County.
“The library location was chosen as it allows for easy access and the square footage fits the needs of the municipalities,” said Gary MacNamara, Executive Director of Public Safety and Government Affairs. “We all know that the SHU community is part of the larger surrounding communities and Dr. Petillo recognized that for this project to go forward, the towns needed our help in finding space.”
According to the Sacred Heart University website, the dispatch center will allow a better flow of communications, reduce duplication of services as many incidents impact more than one town, increase response time and provide another level of security and safety for the SHU campus.
Some students at Sacred Heart feel more secure knowing that help may be on the way faster than before.
“I feel safer knowing that we have a dispatch center so close to us. Anytime I’m walking around campus at night, I can feel more secure having the reliability of emergency services anytime I need them,” said junior Jack Elliot.
“This is the hub of emergency calls for service for both communities so there will be an extra presence at times of emergency personnel, and priority will be given to restore power, should we experience a power loss on campus,” said MacNamara.
The wide variety of services offered by the new dispatch center are designed to be more efficient as municipalities work to take calls and send first responders.
According to CT Insider, “The new dispatch center has been five years in the making, and is the first of its kind in the state. Officials said there are other regional centers, but those are all overseen by private companies. This is the first one led by municipalities.”
Professor Gregory Golda, clinical instructor in communication and media studies, and his Multimedia Production class are working with the dispatch center to create a commercial advertising the new facilities.
“We are working to get the interviews done within the next week for the project we are working on with the dispatch center,” said senior Dylan Cole, a student in the Multimedia Production class.
Since the arrival of the new dispatch center on campus, some students feel that this should be a wakeup call for other universities to do the same.
“I always felt secure on campus knowing that Public Safety was one call away, but having a dispatch center right on campus gives me a whole new feeling of security and I hope other universities around the country do the same, as it can save their students’ lives,” said senior Matthew Cestone.