FORT LEE, Va. -- A new partnership between Fort Lee and neighboring Prince George County may help save lives by speeding up response times of both installation and county police, fire and rescue units.
The post and county will upgrade and share Prince George’s 911 Computer-Aided Dispatch system, per an agreement signed during a small ceremony at the county’s emergency operations center Friday.
Use of the CAD represents an upgrade to Fort Lee’s current emergency dispatch system that provides more timely and accurate communication of information – from the time of an initial call until the final report – including the nature and location of the emergency and other critical details.
Prince George County Chief of Police Keith Early said the improvements will be a force multiplier. “Efficiency on our end means efficiency in the delivery of our services, and time can mean lives,” he said.
The partnership follows the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act guidelines for Intergovernmental Support Agreements, or an IGSA; a mutually beneficial public-to-public partnership that improves government services while avoiding additional costs. Capitalizing on the existing relationship and shared lines of jurisdiction with Prince George County, leaders at Fort Lee saw an IGSA as an opportunity to do both.
“We already have mutual aid agreements and we’re already part of the Prince George family, so we knew that was a good place to start,” said Patrick “Mac” MacKenzie, Fort Lee deputy to the garrison commander.
Planning for the worst, leaders from both sides collaborated to ensure long-term viability of the Army’s investment in the partnership.
“Crime, natural disasters, crises and many other public safety concerns have no regard for jurisdictional boundaries,” Early said.
Keying on this known truth within the emergency response community, Fort Lee purchased an additional server, providing CAD redundancy, a greater level of interoperability between the partners and continuity of operations.
“If something were to happen to one our centers, our personnel could work out of the other seamlessly, and the customer would never notice the difference,” Early said.
The post also purchased tools to enhance the 911 data automation capabilities of the CAD. Triangulation of calls from cell phones and the ability to track response units enable the CAD to automatically dispatch the closest units to the scene of an emergency. These add-ons to the existing CAD also help the post and county comply with FCC-mandated Enhanced 911 standards that go into effect in 2022, at a far lower cost than either could have achieved alone.
“We invested $485,000 to start, which gives us a five-year cost-avoidance of over $5.8 million,” MacKenzie said.
“It is our responsibility to invest the money the Army gives us wisely,” said Lt. Gen. Bradley Becker, commanding general of the Army’s Installation Management Command, in a recent video message to IMCOM personnel. “One of the most cost-effective ways for IMCOM to acquire goods and services is through Intergovernmental Support Agreements.”
While the 911 CAD partnership with Prince George County is Fort Lee’s first IGSA, the garrison is exploring a number of other potential and mutually beneficial partnerships with local municipalities.