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New Dakota County 911 call center

Dakota County has a new system for 911 calls—one without handheld receivers. In their places, the new center has equipped headsets and flat-panel touch screens that show the caller’s location that can be forwarded to emergency response vehicles like fire engines, ambulances, or squad cars. There will be 23 workstations with six computer screens each.

The computer technology cost $6.3 million, and construction of the 25,000 square foot center was an additional $7.8 million. The Dakota Communications Center, located in Empire Township, south of Rosemount will open on Dec. 9, according to the Pioneer Press.

Other 911 centers in Dakota County, five total, “will transfer over their operations and shut their doors by the end of the year,? according to the Pioneer Press. Within the first three years, they expect to save $2.4 million in operating expenses, says the center’s executive director, Kent Therkelsen.

Studies for a new dispatching system began in 1997 and the 9/11 attacks brought grants as incentives for connecting to other agency dispatch systems, Therkelsen told the Star Tribune. Currently, Hennepin, Ramsey, Anoka and Carver counties use that new regional system to communicate with one another.

The new system, says Therkelsen, will allow contact with volunteer firefighters across the county and give care instruction to callers with medical needs before paramedics arrive.

The center will handle over 400,000 calls a year, and uses the same 800 megahertz regional system Hennepin County used during the I-35W bridge collapse.