The Metro Nashville Emergency Communications Center (ECC) was created in July of 2002 after an audit of the city’s 9-1-1 system. Auditors determined that having a separate police and fire communications center created delays for citizens and the potential for delays in service. The solution was to consolidate and streamline the services.
The intent of the consolidation process was to create a center of “one-stop shopping” for 9-1-1 services. This means the call taker who answers the phone can process any type of emergency call – police, fire or medical. This includes the delivery of pre-arrival instructions on medical calls. Under the previous system, a caller who needed fire or medical services was transferred to the Fire Communications Center, which created a delay in response.
Since Police Communications was handling the primary Public Safety Answering Point (PSAP) duties, it was determined that the first step was to cross-train them to handle fire and medical calls. This meant that over 149 employees had to receive additional training to process calls. The ECC staff stepped up to the plate and had the training accomplished in a little over six months. All Police Communications employees, over 149 people, had to be cross-trained in Emergency Medical Dispatching.
After the cross training was complete for call taking, the next step was to cross-train on dispatching. It was decided that it would be simpler for the police communications employees to learn to dispatch fire more easily than for fire to learn police. A joint effort was made by the Nashville Fire Department (NFD) and the ECC to accomplish this step. A revised fire dispatch program was created and many of NFD’s chiefs assisted in helping the personnel to learn the differences in dispatching for fire or medical response. By December of 2004, 97% of all police employees eligible for fire dispatch had been trained, and could now function in any capacity within the ECC.