Woes continue with EFR’s dispatch center

May 7, 2013

By Michele Mihalovich

Corrected version

NORCOM, the emergency dispatch system that provides service to 14 fire districts, including Eastside Fire & Rescue, couldn’t wait any longer for the long-promised new software from New World.

The old system, called TriTech, hadn’t been updated because NORCOM kept expecting the New World system to be in place. And that resulted in the system crashing — just locking up — during emergency calls, said EFR Fire Chief Lee Soptich.

Because of the outdated and crashing system, Soptich said NORCOM spent $185,000 from its reserves to update the system, which went online on April 15.

Soptich said the upgrade went pretty smoothly; however, all of the 14 fire districts reported issues with it’s tracking system for incident reports.

EFR has been able to go back and rebuild the records, Soptich said.

However, the dilemma about what to do about New World remains.

The system for the fire departments was originally supposed to launch in September 2011, but was taken off-line after just 16 days.

EFR, and the Duvall and Snoqualmie Pass fire departments in December notified the Bellevue-based NORCOM, which coordinates emergency response for the 14 fire districts, as well as five police departments from Shoreline to North Bend of their intention to leave NORCOM if a solution to the problem wasn’t found soon.

Soptich said in January that there are not a lot of apparent options for another dispatching service in the area.

Kent-based Valley Communications Center, which dispatches for 23 police, fire and EMS agencies, including in Renton, Auburn and Maple Valley, has indicated that it is not at capacity but would not be looking to add partners in the near future, said Lora Ueland, executive director of the center. *

Partnering with a smaller dispatch center like the Issaquah Police Department would likely require a large investment in new software.

Soptich said he’d prefer to stay with NORCOM if he sees tangible progress in making the system work for fire departments in the coming months.

But, he said he’s doing due diligence in looking at other options.

New World is now promising to deliver by May, but Soptich said, “That is not going to happen.”

However, he said he does have confidence that NORCOM “will figure out the right thing to do.”

 

Michele Mihalovich: 392-6434, ext. 246, or editor@snovalleystar.com.

 

* This version corrects Valley Communication Center’s capacity and clarifies the agencies it serves.

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