911 dispatchers under one roof after merger

Move has saved an average of 21 seconds from about 4,000 emergency calls a month.

EVERETT — Dispatchers in Snohomish County are now working under one roof, the latest step in a merger that’s saving money and valuable time.

The marriage of the county’s two 911 call centers, SNOCOM and SNOPAC, has shaved off an average of 21 seconds from about 4,000 emergency calls a month. Those callers — mostly from a no man’s land between Everett, Mukilteo, Lynnwood and Mill Creek needed to be rerouted to the other call center. The transfer time added up to about 11 days of people getting bounced around each year, Snohomish County 911 director Kurt Mills said.

With the merger, the number of transfers gradually dropped. Now that the two centers are in one space, they’re all gone.

Staff from the call center in Mountlake Terrace, SNOCOM, moved into the remodeled campus of SNOPAC in late May, about a week ahead of schedule. Thirty dispatchers and 10 support workers joined the team in south Everett, bringing the total number of full-time employees in the center to 150. Some of those are record keepers and technical support.

Fewer people will be needed to run the operation, because some jobs were duplicated between the two centers, Mills said. Salary savings will come from regular attrition of people taking other jobs or retiring. No one will be laid off, and the center is already about a year ahead of schedule in efforts to cut costs, Mills said.

SNOCOM and SNOPAC officially merged Jan. 1 after more than a year of planning and discussions. However, dispatchers had still been working in their separate offices until now. The SNOCOM facility will remain ready for use as a backup call center.

Snohomish County 911 now serves 47 police and fire agencies. It shares a campus with the south precinct of the Everett Police Department. The county’s dispatchers expect to handle 750,000 or more emergency calls per year.

Caleb Hutton: 425-339-3454; chutton@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @snocaleb.

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