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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 provides a map of all PSAPs across the state.  

Jurisdiction Service Formation Members Governing Board
Benton County Southeast Communications Center (SECOMM) is a PSAP for county residents and first responders Created under RCW 39.34 User Agencies: All law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies that serve Benton County Executive Board, Director, employees, contracts with City of Richland for services
Chelan-Douglas County RiverCom 911 (2002) is a PSAP for county residents and first responders  RCW 39.34
Interlocal Agreement
Serves public safety agencies in Chelan and Douglas counties  Five voting board members, 8 ex-officio board members
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; began in 1976 as CRCA but named changed 2001 RCW 39.34
Interlocal Agreement (2001)

Became a Public Development Authority in 2017
User Agencies: the 7 cities located in Clark County and unincorporated areas of the county Governed by an Administrative Board comprised of 9 board members serving indefinite terms
 
Clallam County, and Clallam and Jefferson County portions of the Olympic National Park Peninsula Communications (PenCom; 1992) is a consolidated emergency communications and records management center RCW 39.34 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 Oversight by City of Port Angeles
Cowlitz County Cowlitz County 911 (1975) is the primary PSAP for police, fire, and emergency medical services in the county Created Under RCW 39.34
Interlocal Agreement
User Agencies: Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies serving Cowlitz County as well as American  Council composed of one elected official from each jurisdiction
Grant County Multi Agency Communications Center (1995) is a consolidated county dispatch and 911 service Created under RCW 39.34 User Agencies: Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies serving Grant County,and selected county and state govenment agencies 7-member Board composed of one elected official each from following Grant County groups:
  • Board of Commissioners
  • Assoc. of  cities/towns
  • Police chiefs from cities/towns
  • Fire chiefs/ commissioners assoc. from cities/towns
  • Emergency medical services council
  • Sheriff department
  • Largest city/town
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 A 7-member administrative board of county & cities; operating board; and sub committees; Executive Director
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 (both Whidbey and Camano Island) Board of Directors plus an Executive Director 
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 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 Executive Board (Board), which is composed of the Chief Executive Officers of the Principals
Bylaws
King County, north North East King County Regional Public Safety Communications Agency (NORCOM; 2008) provides enhanced 911 services 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  A 15-member Board governs the Agency and appoints an Executive Director to administer its services
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 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. Administration and Operations Board Bylaws

VCC Development Authority (2000) was created under Ch. 39.34 RCW and RCW 35.21.730-.755, to issue debt for financing the construction and equipping of a new dispatch facility for VCC
Kitsap County Kitsap 911 (1976) is a PSAP for county residents and first responders Created under RCW 39.34 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 Governing board of 13 elected officials representing Kitsap County, the Cities of Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, Port Orchard, and Poulsbo, and the Kitsap County Fire Commissioners Association
Kittitas County KITTCOM 911 (1990) is a PSAP for county residents and first responders 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  A 7-member administrative board with 5 elected officials from user agencies, plus 2 appointed board members. Also has an appointed Executive Director to oversee agency services
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 Administrative Board
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 Overseen by the Lewis County Central Services Administration
Mason County Mason County Emergency Communications (911 MACECOM; 1982), PSAP for residents and first responders in Mason County 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.  Nine member governing board; 5 elected, 4 appointed
Okanogan County Okanogan Communications Center is a PSAP for residents and first responders in Okanogan County County-initiated agreements with participating agencies Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies in Okanogan county Overseen by the Okanogan Sheriff's Office
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 RCW 39.34  Law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services agencies in the county, including the Shoalwater Tribal Police, and a private ambulance company Administrative and Operations Boards are both formed by representatives from the various participating agencies to the interlocal agreement. An appointed coordinator operates under the Pacific County Sheriff. See also Pacific County Code Ch. 8.32 - Emergency Service Communications District for South Beach area (Grayland, North Cove, and Tokeland vicinity)
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 The 9-member Policy Board provides legislative and policy direction for the agency. The 12-member Operations Board provides operational oversight and direction.
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  Snohomish County jurisdictions formerly served by SNOPAC and SNOCOM A 16-member Governing Board with 15 voting members and 1 non-voting member. Executive Director oversees agency operations

Interim bylaws (see page 66)
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  A 14 member Emergency Services Communication Policy Board
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 An 8-member Administration Board, which is advised by an Operation Board and committees; an Executive Director oversees agency operations
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 Located in the Police Department; Public Safety Communications Manager oversees operations
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) Governed by a six-member Executive Board composed of two voting members from each governing agency: Whitman County, Washington State University and the city of Pullman. Asotin County and the city of Moscow have nonvoting ex-officio members. The Board appoints a Director
 

Regional Communication Facilities Additional Documents

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

Benton County BCE

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: May 31, 2018