CLAYTON, MO (KPLR) - The brand new St. Louis County Communications Center has opened in Ballwin. It will be home for many important departments including the Emergency Operation Center.
Inside the EOC 14 different pods will be staffed by fire, police, health officials and representatives from every county department when something like a tornado rolls through a neighborhood. The EOC replaces the old center which was built during the Cold War in the late 1950's. Mark Diedrich is an Emergency Management Specialist. He said the old EOC was no longer large enough nor could it be updated, "It became more and more difficult to bring in new technology to that existing space."
The new 911 dispatching center is still under construction. It will open by the end of the year. Outside, crews were working on a tower installing special equipment for dispatchers who are now working out of Clayton. The old EOC was in Chesterfield. Now the two will only be feet away from each other. Diedrich said, "Every second we save gathering information and dissemination is what most likely is going to save a life."
The Communication Center was built at a cost of $17 million and was constructed to withstand an F-3 tornado.
It is also home to the new emergency radio system which allows fire and police in all metro departments to talk with each other during an emergency. This is the result of 911 when New York Police and fire fighters could not radio each other when terrorists attacked. Diedrich added, "What happened that day was the police department knew the tower was going to come down because they had a helicopter in the air and they could see it start to crumble and radioed policemen to get out of the building the fire department was not on that same system and that's one of the reasons so many firefighters were lost that day than police."
It's all about getting the best and latest information quickly to those who need it to protect and save lives.