About 911 Dispatch

By law, 911 Centers Must Comply with a Variety Of Mandated Rules & Regulations.

Here’s Just a Few to Think on:

  • Must provide “enhanced 911 service.”  In other words, the 911 call is routed to the appropriate dispatch center, an automatic number identification is provided (displays the callers 7-digit phone number) and location identification (ability to display latitude and longitude of the callers location);
  • Sufficient lines must be provided to ensure that there is no more than one busy signal per 100 calls;
  • Must provide electronic recording of all 911 calls, which must be kept a minimum of 60 days;
  • Must have the capability to immediately play back 911 calls;
  • Must provide adequate physical security of the 911 dispatch center;
  • Must have emergency power to operate during power failures;
  • Must have written operational procedures;
  • Must have a minimum of one Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD);
  • Must have the capability to answer 80% of calls within 10 seconds;
  • Must have contingency plans for rerouting or relocation in the event of a disaster or equipment failure;
  • Must have the capability to have cellular phones routed to 911;
  • Dispatchers must be trained and certified by the S.C. Criminal Justice Academy;
  • All 911 lines must have both audio and light indicators on incoming calls.

The Beaufort County Dispatch Center has many of its own internal policies, rules and regulations.  We are very stringent with our guidelines; after all, we are in the business of saving lives.  Dispatching can be a very fulfilling career.  Knowing that you made a difference, helped save a life, or calmly walked someone through a crisis situation can be very rewarding,  and stressful!  Yes, being a Dispatcher can be extremely stressful at times!  We must deal with people verbally in high stress situations and sometimes life or death situations.  Dispatchers must be able to remain calm to do their jobs. 

Dispatchers must have a clear, distinct speaking voice and have good hearing in both ears. They must be able to follow complex oral and / or written instructions, and have good typing skills.  The Beaufort County Dispatch Center works on 12-hour shifts, with 44 full-time dispatcher positions.

During hurricane operations, or other catastrophic events, our dispatchers must be able to remain at the Center around the clock if necessary.  Since 1989, we activated the Center several times for hurricane operations, requiring a few overnight stays.

Computers – They’re Everywhere!

Each of our dispatchers have multiple computers and must work a minimum of six monitors at a time. One monitor shows incoming 911 calls, the location of the caller, and the physical address of the caller.  A second monitor displays a Computer Aided Dispatch system (CAD), which logs all calls.  The system is able to keep up with responders' statuses, it recommends available units to send to the call, and it even reminds the dispatcher of pending or overdue calls.  The third monitor displays a mapping system of Beaufort County and runs a recording device.  When a 911 call comes in, the mapping computer pinpoints the caller’s location.  The dispatcher is able to give directions to the callers location based on this enhanced mapping system. The additional monitors assists with other services as well. 

Geographically, Beaufort County is surrounded by hundreds of small islands and a lot of water. Our center receives a significant number of emergency calls from boaters in distress throughout the year.  One of the newer capabilities of cell phone technology allows us to receive longitude/latitude information from cell phones, which in turn gives us the ability to send rescue units out into rivers, marshes or even the ocean to assist citizens.  This only works with the newer models of cell phones, however.  You may want to check with your cell phone company to confirm that your cell phone has this capability.

(SLED) South Carolina Law Enforcement Division

One of the agencies that plays an essential role in our day-to-day operations is SLED.  They participate in the Nationwide Law Enforcement Network and exchange law enforcement information with all 50 states, the FBI, the U.S. Postal Service, the Department of Justice, the Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Virgin Islands, etc.  SLED maintains all criminal history information for the South Carolina and maintains all relays to all states and Canada for criminal history checks for all other states.

SLED also maintains all Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) files for South Carolina and maintains all the relays to all states and Canada for their DMV files.

SLED allows access to the FBI files for criminal histories, wanted persons, missing persons, unidentified persons, stolen vehicles, parts and license plates, stolen guns, stolen securities, stolen articles, stolen boats, felony vehicles, protection orders, violent gang and terrorist organization files, fraudulent check identifications and sex offenders. Through these databases, Law Enforcement officers (this includes Dispatch Centers) may make inquiries to these files whenever warranted.

Public Education

The County’s Communications Department is very proactive in their efforts to educate residents, school kids, visitors, etc. regarding the proper use of 9-1-1, and how to obtain help during emergencies.  We are always looking for opportunities to speak at schools, job fairs, community events, etc.  If you would like for us to speak at an event, give us a call (843-255-4015). We will be happy to accommodate you.

911 Address Advisory Information

The County’s Communications Department is now offering a “911 Address Advisory Form” that the public may fill out and send in to our office. This form can be used by citizens to report valuable information regarding medical or other issues that may be prevalent in their home.

If a 911 call is received from a home, the Computer Aided Dispatch system will alert the 911 Dispatcher to conditions that are relevant regarding your situation and send that information to responding emergency units.

The form can be used to report chronic illnesses, elderly persons living in the home, persons that are physically disabled or have limited mobility, infants on apnea monitors, Alzheimer’s patients/residents, etc.

By making this information readily available to the 911 Dispatcher, the family will only have to provide limited information if they have to call 911, most of the information will already be in the computer and can be passed on to paramedics, fire personnel or law enforcement (though the caller may have to provide some additional information depending on the call).  The form will advise 911 Dispatchers of the patient’s sleeping location in the home, the medications that the patient is currently taking, etc.

To fill out a 911 Address Advisory Form, just click on this link and submit the form to us today. 

Our goal is to provide efficient, effective information to our Emergency Services personnel in an effort to save lives and assist the citizens and visitors of Beaufort County.

Telecommunicator Emergency Response Team (TERT)

This response team is comprised of a group of Dispatch professionals throughout the State of South Carolina that can respond to aid other dispatch centers (anywhere in the country) in the event of a natural or manmade disaster.  Many times, dispatch personnel work long hours with no relief following a disaster situation.  Dispatchers end up working numerous days with no time off, leading to fatigue, lack of enthusiasm and many times sheer exhaustion.

If this type of situation occurs, a county may make a request to the S.C. Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) for assistance.  SCEMD in turn contacts the Beaufort County Emergency Management Division for their help (we serve as a Regional Response Center).  We then look through our files for dispatchers (state-wide) who are equally trained/certified and are able to operate similar equipment and procedures as that of the requesting county.  Once matched, a formal request for deployment/response will be made, and dispatchers will respond to the county in need.

The Beaufort County Communications Department is one of several counties in South Carolina that participate in this program.

911 Services For Local Military Establishments

The Beaufort County Communications Department also works closely with the three local military establishments (the Marine Corps Air Station, Parris Island Recruit Depot, and the Naval Hospital). There are automatic aid agreements in place for fire service with the Naval Hospital upon request; and EMS services with the Air Station and Laurel Bay.

As a matter of fact, the County’s Emergency Management Division (the Communications Department being inclusive), frequently takes part in joint training and exercises with all three bases.