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Emergency Communication Services and Facilities

This page provides information regarding emergency communications and dispatch for local governments in Washington State, including statutes, sample documents, and related resources.

It is part of MRSC's series on Emergency Management and Disaster Planning.


Overview

Some of the major agencies, programs and systems governing emergency communications are noted in this section.

Federal Emergency Notification Programs

911 Systems

E911 is a system that automatically provides the location of callers to 911 dispatchers using a universal emergency telephone number.

Enhanced 911 System — Part of Washington State’s Emergency Management Division, the E911 Unit works with counties and communications companies to ensure the E911 system is operational and available statewide
National Emergency Number Association (NENA) — NENA works with 911 professionals nationwide, public policy leaders, emergency services and telecommunications industry partners, like-minded public safety associations, and other stakeholder groups to develop and carry out critical programs and initiatives, to facilitate the creation of an IP-based Next Generation 911 system, and to establish industry leading standards, training, and certifications​

Examples of Emergency Notification Systems in Washington

Counties

Cities

  • SeaTac CodeRED Emergency Notification System — Allows for automated emergency warning notifications via landline phone numbers from a database kept by the city
  • Alert Yakima — Allows users to receive emergency notifications by text, call, email, or fax
  • Alert Seattle — Allows users to receive emergency notifications by text, call, email, or social media

Dedicated Wireless and Radio Communications

The Public Safety Spectrum is composed of edicated wireless and radio channels available to serve the communications needs of First Responders, such as police, fire fighters and Emergency Medical Service (EMS) providers.  Common frequencies used by first responders are as follows


Regional Examples of Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP)

A public safety answering point (PSAP) is a call center responsible for answering calls to an emergency telephone number for police, firefighting, and ambulance services. A PSAP facility runs 24 hours a day, dispatching emergency services or passing 911 calls on to public or private safety agencies.

The table below lists some of the Public Safety Answering Points (PSAP) in the state. Some are countywide and some serve more than one county. Most have been created through interlocal agreements, as provided for under RCW 39.34, and have separate governing bodies. Some are county services provided through interlocal service agreements. Washington State Public Safety Answering Points Boundaries provides a map of all PSAPs across the state.  

Jurisdiction Service Formation Members
Benton County Southeast Communications Center (SECOMM) is a PSAP for county residents and first responders Created under RCW 39.34

Interlocal Agreement
User Agencies: All law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies that serve Benton County
Chelan-Douglas County RiverCom 911 (2002) is a PSAP for county residents and first responders  Created under RCW 39.34

Interlocal Agreement
Serves public safety agencies in Chelan and Douglas counties 
Clark County Clark Regional Emergency Service Agency (CRESA; 1976), is a regional public safety agency that provides 9-1-1 dispatch, technology services and emergency management Organized as a public authority under RCW 35.21.730-759

Ch. 2.74A Clark County Code
User Agencies: the 7 cities located in Clark County and unincorporated areas of the county
Clallam County, and the Clallam and Jefferson County portions of the Olympic National Park Peninsula Communications (PenCom; 1992), operating within the Port Angeles Police Department, is the 911 center and communications division for Clallam County Created Under RCW 39.34

Interlocal Agreement
Clients: All law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies, and tribal police departments in Clallam County as well as Forks Hospital District and Olympic National Park Rangers and 6 fire protection districts
Cowlitz County Cowlitz County 911 (1975) is the primary PSAP for police, fire, and emergency medical services in the county Organized as a public authority under RCW 35.21.730-759

Cowlitz County Ordinance No. 18-014
Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies serving Cowlitz County
Grant County Multi Agency Communications Center (1995) is a consolidated county dispatch and 911 service Created under RCW 39.34

Interlocal Agreement
User Agencies: Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies serving Grant County, and selected county and state government agencies
Grays Harbor  Grays Harbor Communications E-911 (1989) is a countywide emergency communication agency providing enhanced 911 services Created under RCW 39.34

Interlocal agreements
User Agencies: Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies serving Grays Harbor County
Island County Island County Emergency Services Communications Center (I-COM 911) is a countywide emergency communication agency providing enhanced 911 services Created under RCW 39.34

Interlocal agreement
User Agencies: All of the law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies that serve Island County
King County, east Eastside Public Safety Communications Agency (EPSCA; 1992) is responsible for developing, owning, operating and managing a geographical subregion of the King Co Regional Emergency Radio Communications System Created under RCW 39.34; 
In 2013 the agency was restructured as a nonprofit pursuant to Interlocal Cooperation Act

Interlocal Agreement
Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies that serve the cities of Bellevue, Redmond, Kirkland Mercer Island, and Issaquah
King County, north North East King County Regional Public Safety Communications Agency (NORCOM; 2008) provides enhanced 911 services Created under RCW 39.34

Several interlocal agreements available at the website
Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies that serve Bellevue, Clyde Hill, Kirkland, Medina, Mercer Island, Bothell, Duvall, Fall City, Northshore, Redmond, Shoreline, Skykomish, Snoqualmie, and Woodinville 
King County, south Valley Communications Center (1976) is responsible for developing, owning, operating and managing a geographical subregion of the King Co. Regional Emergency Radio Communications System Created under RCW 39.34

Interlocal Agreement

Amendments
 
User agencies: Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies that serve Auburn, Algona, Black Diamond, Burien, Des Moines, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Highline, Kent, Maple Valley, Mountain View, Kangley Palmer, Renton, Skyway, Tukwila, and Vashon Island.
Kitsap County Kitsap 911 (1976) is a PSAP for county residents and first responders Organized as a public authority under RCW 35.21.730 - 759

Kitsap County Ordinance No. 532-2016
User Agencies: Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies that serve in Kitsap County, as well as Kitsap Animal Control, Dept of Corrections (county), United States Navy (Bremerton) and Port Gamble Natural Resource
Kittitas County KITTCOM 911 (1990) is a PSAP for county residents and first responders Created under RCW 39.34

Several interlocal agreements available at the website
User Agencies: Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies that serve in Kittitas County, as well as Central Washington University 
Jefferson County JeffCom 911 (2007) provides enhanced 911 dispatch Created under RCW 39.34 User Agencies: Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies that serve in Jefferson County
Lewis County Lewis County E911 Communications Division (E911) is a PSAP for residents and first responders in Lewis County County-initiated agreements with participating agencies All law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies in Lewis County, including a private ambulance company
Mason County Mason County Emergency Communications (911 MACECOM; 1982), PSAP for residents and first responders in Mason County Created under RCW 39.34  User Agencies: city, county, tribal and state law enforcement agencies, fire, and emergency medical services agencies that serve in Mason County, plus additional county agencies and courts. 
Okanogan County Okanogan Communications Center is a PSAP for residents and first responders in Okanogan County County-initiated agreements with participating agencies

Interlocal Agreement for Dispatch Services between Omak and Okanogan County
Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies in Okanogan county
Pacific County Pacific County Communications (PACCOM) is a PSAP for residents and first responders in Pacific County; located under the Pacific County Sheriff’s Office Created under RCW 39.34  Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies in the county, including the Shoalwater Tribal Police, and a private ambulance company
Pierce County South Sound 911 (2011) provides 911 and dispatch, records and technology services, and a regional, interoperable, first-responder radio system Created under RCW 39.34 

List of Interlocal Agreements
User Agencies: Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies in Pierce County
Skagit County Skagit 911 (1998; formerly SECOM) is a countywide PSAP Created under RCW 39.34  User Agencies: Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies in Skagit County, including tribal agencies
Snohomish County Snohomish County 911 (2018) Created via the merging of SNOCOM (Southwest Snohomish County Communications Agency) and SNOPAC (Snohomish County Police Staff & Auxiliary Service Center) to offer a countywide PSAP Created under RCW 39.34 

Interlocal Agreement
Snohomish County jurisdictions formerly served by SNOPAC and SNOCOM
Spokane County Spokane Regional Emergency Communications Systems (SRECS) is a countywide PSAP Created under Ch. 39.34 RCW User Agencies: all law enforcement and fire agencies in Spokane County 
Thurston County  TCOMM 911 is a countywide PSAP RCW 39.34

Interlocal Agreement

Additional agreements available
User Agencies: all law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies in Thurston County, plus public works agencies, private emergency services, animal services, county coroner, and public training resources
Walla Walla County Walla Walla Emergency Services Communications (WESCOM or Dispatch) provides 911 call answering City facility providing services through interlocal agreements User Agencies: law enforcement and fire agencies in Walla Walla County, also handles non-emergency request for public works/utilities
Whitman County Whitman County Regional Communication Center (WHITCOM: 2004),  countywide PSAP Created under RCW 39.34  Law enforcement, fire, tribal law enforcement, and emergency medical services agencies in Whitman County, including WSU, as well as for the City of Moscow and Asotin County (ID)
 

Regional Communication Facilities Additional Documents

The documents below show some of the initial steps in creating emergency communication services and facilities through interlocal agreements.

King County Radio Service

Snohomish County Emergency Radio System (SERS)

Snohomish County Emergency Radio Systems (SERS) is a public nonprofit corporation pursuant to chapter 24.06 RCW and IRC 501(c)(3) that was established via an interlocal agreement in 1999 with the cities of Brier, Edmonds, Everett, Lynnwood, Marysville, Mill Creek, Mountlake Terrace, Mukilteo and Woodway, and the County. The purpose of SERS was to design, develop, finance, acquire, install, operate, maintain and repair and replace the county’s public safety communications service.

South Sound 911

  • Interlocal agreement (2011) between Pierce County, cities of Tacoma and Lakewood, and Pierce County Fire Protection District No. 3 for the creation and operation of South Sound 911
  • Ballot Measure for funding the agency through a sales and use tax, November 2011 General Election
  • South Sound 911 Archive Search — Can search for agreements, budget, finance, resolutions, motions of policy and operations boards, newsletters, and reports

Valley Communications Center

  • Federal Way Ordinance No. 00-369 (2000) — Approves the formation of the VCC Development Authority
  • Exhibit A; Kent Ordinance No. — Approves VCC charter and bylaws
  • Exhibit B; Charter of the VCC Development Authority
  • Tukwila Ordinance No. 1912 (2000) — Approves formation of the VCC Development Authority to acquire, construct, and equip the Center through the issuance and servicing of long term debt

WHITCOM Communications Center

The Whitman County Regional Communication Center (WHITCOM), located in Pullman provides Emergency 911 communication services to citizens in Whitman County, and Asotin County and the city of Moscow in Idaho. WHITCOM is governed by a 6-member Executive Board. Whitman County provides administrative support and the city of Pullman provides Human Resources.


Misuse and Abuse of 911 Call System

911 is an emergency service and should be treated as such. However, unintentional misuse and intentional abuse of the 911 system is a problem that many operators deal with nationwide. Any time someone calls 911 without considering whether their situation merits it, lives are put at risk. Below are resources to help local governments tackle misuse and abuse of their 911 systems.

  • Office of Community Oriented Policing Services: Misuse and Abuse of 911 (2002) — Part of the Problem-Oriented Guides for Police series, this section addresses the misuse and abuse of 911 and offers resources so that local governments can analyze and tackle the problem 
  • Edmonds Municipal Code Ch. 5.21 — Misuse identified as false request for emergency services or when the caller “does not have good faith basis to request” such assistance; provides penalties for violations
  • Okanogan County Code Ch. 9.12 — Defines abuse of 911 system as any call that falls within the guidelines of RCW 9A.84.040

Recommended Resources


Last Modified: October 29, 2019