Wireless customers in Cobb County can now send a text message to 911 operators for emergency help when unable to make a voice call. This service is available to the majority of wireless customers. All major carriers have completed integration with the Cobb County 911 system. Cobb County will receive text to 911 messsages from both unincorporated Cobb County and from the cities within Cobb. Information will be relayed to the appropriate city if necessary. Smyrna 911 has deployed its own text to 911. The county will work with Smyrna to provide seamless police, fire and medical services.
With changes in the employment process, more police recruits are being hired. The need was identified to increase the number of academies being offered each year by the Cobb County Department of Public Safety Training Center. Each mandate class is now approximately 20 weeks, allowing for additional training cycles without sacrificing the level of training for which Cobb County is known. Mandate classes are now held four times each year until vacancies have been filled. Previously, classes were only offered twice per year.
Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services created a computer application which promotes awareness, safety and education to the residents of Cobb County. Cobb County is one of the first in the country to design such an application.
The new Department of Public Safety Internal Affairs office, which handles recruiting and background investigations for all DPS employees, was completed in March 2015. This allowed consolidation of staff from four locations and has significantly improved hiring, oversight and operational efficiency.
Shift differential pay was implemented for Police, Sheriff’s Office, E-911 and Animal Control employees at the rate of 50 cents per hour for officers working evening shift and $1 per hour for personnel working midnight shift. These shifts cause personnel to work less desirable, more dangerous hours and often take a tremendous toll on family life. The differential pay will provide additional compensation for those who work nontraditional shifts.
The expansion of the 10-hour shifts continued for the police department in 2015. This results in enhanced officer and public safety. The current eight hour shifts do not allow for additional staffing levels during high-demand periods. The four-day/10-hour shift also offers the officers more time to recuperate (especially ones assigned to non-traditional shifts) and results in reduced overtime. This transition will continue to other precincts throughout 2016.
Forty additional officers were approved for the police department and will be used to continue the implementation of 10-hours shifts.
The police department ranger unit received two 2015 Zero DSP electric motorcycles. These fully electric patrol motorcycles are valuable for patrolling not only the off-road areas of the county but also patrolling the 12.8 mile Cobb County section of the Silver Comet Trail. Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services took delivery of two Fortuna Rapid Deployment Craft to use for water rescue at a cost of $9,000. Through a grant from the Urban Area Security Initiative, the police department received 10 Ford Explorers for use in patrol and special operations.
Cobb County Public Fire and Life Safety Division taught nearly 24,000 students during 700 classes at the Safety Village throughout the year. The department distributed 437 smoke detectors and installed 369 child safety seats.
The county hired its first paid Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services medical director. This has improved the quality of care given through changes in protocols and additional quarterly training.
Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services Special Operations Division deployed tourniquets and trauma response kits to all 47 Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services response apparatus. Since deployment in June 2015, this $16,000 in equipment has significantly reduced the loss of limb or probable death for 16 patients.
Representatives from police, fire and E-911 worked with Kennesaw State University stakeholders towards completion of a football response plan to ensure communication interoperability, security and traffic management for games and other events at the university.
Cobb Fire participated in numerous exercises with private partners and neighboring jurisdictions to better plan and train for a variety of disaster situations.
The Internal Affairs management team help lead a Police Athletic League baseball camp at Southwest Baseball Association in Clarkdale. The camp was a partnership between the Cobb County Police Department Police Athletic League, The Atlanta Braves and Better Baseball Inc.
The Public Safety Blitz was held on Six Flags Drive. This annual public event, which combined the efforts of the Police Department, Fire Department, 911 and Animal Control, Austell Community Task Force, Neighborhood Safety Committee and United Way, was once again very well attended and by all measures a huge success.
One hundred twenty seven members of Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services received the CARES Award (given for the successful resuscitation of a cardiac arrest) at the Region III EMS Awards Banquet.
Animal Control received approval and filled a position for animal cruelty investigations. This has been a huge success and has cleared/prosecuted dozens of cases involving animal cruelty. He has been featured in the newspaper for the positive work he is doing to champion animals that fall victim to these crimes. Animal Control officials also attended 32 community outreach events promoting bite prevention and child safety.
State law mandates that all 911 radio transmissions and audio phone calls be recorded and saved for three years. The NICE recording system provides immediate play back of both radio and phone systems to ensure information is accurately received by the dispatcher. The software has been upgraded and a quality assurance program has been added. This will expedite and provide continuity in the Quality Assurance review process. The new system was deployed in February 2015.
Cobb County 911 Emergency Communications Installed automatic call distribution for its phone system. ACD eliminates the need for operators to multi-task. Operators sign onto the phone system to answer calls when they are not on a busy radio. Dispatchers can provide a higher level of officer safety support because they do not have to answer 911 calls. Call takers can provide uninterrupted attention to callers because they do not have to answer radio traffic. Call answer times have improved, especially for administrative calls. The new system went live in January 2015.
911 Emergency Communications employees from other shifts have been assigned to the “Power Shift” to address peak call volume periods. This will be especially advantageous during large scale events such as Braves and KSU games. This shift also allows a third schedule option for operators. The new shift was deployed in January 2015.
When a response to a 911 caller’s location in another jurisdiction was delayed due to lat/long confusion and mapping limitations, Cobb County initiated an examination of its 911 mapping capabilities. It was determined that making available Internet connectivity and mapping on all positions would improve service. We purchased a separate server to ensure CAD security was not compromised. Internet on all positions was installed May 2015.
Cobb 911 currently has a Public Education team, however with the deployment of Text to 911, an aggressive Public Education Program is needed. The team membership has been doubled. Several power points have been created to reflect the individual needs of community members. The team will focus on schools (latch-key children especially), the elderly and domestic violence victims. We will be partnering with advocacy groups such as the YWCA, the District Attorney’s office, middle schools and the Elderly Abuse Task Force.
For years 911 centers across Georgia have struggled keeping manpower to saturated levels. Finding employees who can handle the stress and multi-tasking and remain compassionate and professional is a challenge nationwide. Therefore many people must go through the hiring process to find the few who can complete the assessment. In order to ensure the hiring process in not interrupted, to assist with background checks and to provide hands on perspective during job fairs and the recruitment process, a 911 operator has been assigned to Internal Affairs. Enhancing the recruitment and background check process was initiated in June 2015.
The Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services Special Operations Division purchased numerous pieces of equipment, including new medium/high pressure lifting air bags on Squad 4 for $23,097, two wireless four-gas detection units for the Hazardous Materials Response Team costing $14,890 and new pipe leak sealing kits and air bags for drainage pipes for the Hazardous Materials Response Team costing $16,280. It also purchased 50 Zoll AED Plus Automatic External Defibrillators for the Cobb Public Access Defibrillation Program at a cost of $52,250.
Fire and Emergency Services spent $156,000 to purchase 45 SCOTT self contained breathing apparatus to supplement the current inventory.
For fiscal year 2015, the Fire Marshal’s Office answered a record 350 fire code complaints (a 24 percent increase since 2011) while closing 80 percent of those complaints within 37 days or less. A record 279 open records requests were also processed, showing a 53 percent increase over the previous year.
In total, the Fire Marshal’s Office completed 13,280 fire inspections, plan reviews and code enforcement activities resulting in excess of $510,000 of revenues. This includes citations written by the Fire Investigations Unit for fire lane violations and unauthorized burning.
Cobb Emergency Management Agency coordinates emergency management services for the county by providing leadership, planning, education and resources to protect lives, property and the environment. In an effort to achieve this, the Emergency Shelter Plan was completed, adding additional shelter locations throughout the community to increase the county’s level of preparedness.
Cobb EMA purchased $8,665 in new technology in 2015 to enhance the Emergency Operations Center using Emergency Management Preparedness Grant funds. This included additional telephones for work stations, a new computer for the outdoor weather siren system, and a camera for teleconferences. A new piece of equipment, a Barco Clickshare, was purchased to enable wireless information sharing in the EOC. These additions allow county personnel and partners of EMA to continue a superior level of service to Cobb residents concerning severe weather, coordination of resources and support during a crisis.
Cobb County has 74 outdoor weather sirens to alert the public of severe weather. This year, two sirens were completely replaced for a total of $45,420. In addition, 22 sirens received a replacement cabinet that will prolong their lifespan for a total of $129,497, all of which was paid from the siren maintenance budget. EMA conducts a monthly test the first Wednesday of every month, weather permitting, to ensure each siren is functioning properly. EMA utilized $11, 950.00 in Emergency Management Preparedness Grant funds to purchase spare parts. These parts are readily available to ensure sirens with maintenance needs are repaired quickly to avoid any interruption in coverage during severe weather.
Cobb EMA has trained 1,826 individuals in the Community Emergency Response Team curriculum since its inception and trained 238 residents in 2015. In expanding the CERT program, EMA certified 49 new CERT instructors to teach the curriculum in the county and the municipalities. The City of Smyrna and the City of Kennesaw are actively training their residents. In 2016, EMA plans to continue expanding CERT trainings through the other municipalities and the faith-based community. In addition to these trainings, EMA conducted more than 30 preparedness presentations to various community organizations spreading the message of preparedness and volunteer opportunities in times of disaster.
In July 2015, Cobb EMA held a kickoff meeting to begin the Hazard Mitigation Plan update, which will be submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency for renewal in early 2016. The process involves substantial coordination and information gathering with all municipalities within Cobb County. CEMA is also partnering with the Information Services Department to plan for the implementation of a Business Continuity/Continuity of Operations Plan in 2016 that will allow the county to be better prepared to continue operations during emergency situations. Cobb EMA is also a member of the county’s critical infrastructure/key resources team to conduct security assessments of critical infrastructure. Several site visits were conducted during the 2015 calendar year.