It’s National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, recognizing the essential work these first responders provide 24/7, 365 days a year. If you ever had to call 9-1-1, the calm voice on the other end is your initial point of contact.

Calling from a landline in Nevada County automatically routes you to the Sheriff’s dispatch center currently located in the Wayne Brown Correctional Facility near the Rood Center. In 2021, the center handled 39,000 9-1-1 calls and 120,000 non-emergency calls. NCSO dispatchers created approximately 95,000 calls for service across Nevada County last year. Call volume increased by 4,000 for 911 calls compared to 2020.

NCSO dispatchers determine if the call is a law enforcement matter, medical or fire emergency. They dispatch all law enforcement in Nevada County and work in conjunction with CHP Grass Valley. While one dispatcher collects detail information from the caller and enters it into the system, their colleagues send resources to the location. At the same time, they check on all law enforcement out in the field and maintain radio contact with them.

A few of the NCSO dispatchers. Photo courtesy NCSO

NCSO dispatch is staffed by one manager, one supervisor, two senior dispatchers, nine dispatchers and three part-time dispatchers at full staffing. If you are interested in being part of the team, NCSO is recruiting additional dispatchers I and II at this time. You can find job description, benefit details and the applications here for Dispatcher I and here for Dispatcher II.

“Our Dispatchers are the first connection to our community when they are in need. Their job takes extreme discipline, heart, courage and patience. This week and every week, I am thankful for the great public safety dispatchers we have at NCSO,” says Sheriff Shannan Moon.

GV ECC

If the 911 call is a medical emergency or a report of fire, the call is handed off to the Grass Valley Emergency Command Center (ECC) at the Nevada County Air Base where both CAL FIRE and Tahoe National Forest Service dispatchers take the information and assign resources.

The CAL FIRE side of the Grass Valley Emergency Command Center (ECC)

The Grass Valley ECC is the second busiest ECC in the state next to the Riverside Unit. The ECC is the Air Ambulance coordinator for Sierra Sacramento Valley EMS (SSV) for five Northern California counties. The ECC also acts as the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (OES) Region IV contact that watches over 12 operational areas in the northern part of the state.

Grass Valley ECC provides dispatch services to nearly 30 agencies throughout Nevada, Yuba, Placer, Plumas and El Dorado counties and processed over 44,792 events and dispatched 35,487 incidents in 2021. This is a significant increase from ten years ago when they processed 33,794 events and dispatched 28,771 incidents.

CHP employs more than 700 public safety dispatchers in its 24 Communications Centers throughout the state; they handle more than five million calls a year.

Thank the “First, First Responders

If you’d like to express your appreciation to our local dispatchers, why not send them a postcard? Get your kids involved, remind or teach them when to call 911 and have the whole family sign the cards.

Sheriff’s Dispatch Center
c/o Nevada County Sheriff’s Office
950 Maidu Avenue
Nevada City, CA 95959

Grass Valley Emergency Command Center
13120 Loma Rica Drive
Grass Valley, CA 95945

If you ever have to call 911, here are a few tips from CHP headquarters:

Calling 9-1-1 can be stressful.  The following tips will help callers during an emergency:

  • Stay as calm as possible.
  • Call from a landline if possible.
  • Be prepared to provide your name, phone number, address or location, and a detailed description of the incident or vehicle being reported.
  • Cellular telephones may not tell the call-taker where you are.  The location of the emergency may be the single most important information for the dispatcher in case the call is cut off.  
  • Wait for the dispatcher to ask questions, and then answer clearly and calmly.
  • Listen carefully and follow all directions provided by the dispatcher.
  • Be prepared to provide a physical description if the emergency involves a criminal suspect.
  • Remember, 9-1-1 is for life-threatening emergencies.  Misuse of the emergency 9-1-1 system will result in a delay for callers with real emergencies and is punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000.