Zetron‘s Acom system has been installed in the new, state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Centre in Queensland, Australia. The system was chosen for its advanced functionality, reliability, customizability, and ability to expand over time.
There is much for Queensland, Australia, to be proud of in the new Emergency Operations Centre (QEOC) that just opened near Brisbane. The $80 million (AUD) facility is the premier emergency-services site in Australia and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
At the heart of the QEOC is Zetron‘s Advanced Communication (Acom) System, which serves as the command-and-control point for three communication centers within the QEOC. It not only provides the integrated functionality the QEOC requires to meet its current needs, but also the flexibility to accommodate its projected growth over time.
Built for public safety and green operations
The QEOC covers 73,200 square feet (6,800 square meters) and took four years to build. With its innovative engineering and advanced technologies, the facility is purpose-built from the ground up to be a state-of-the-art public-safety center. Its interiors are efficient, well organized and constructed to create a calm, comfortable setting for workers who must handle extremely stressful situations on a daily basis. The facility is also designed to very high environmental standards. Its five-star energy rating reflects both its green construction and the small environmental footprint of its ongoing operations.
One agency, four divisions
The QEOC functions under the auspices of the Queensland Department of Community Safety (DCS), the agency responsible for emergency and corrective services throughout Queensland. The DCS comprises four divisions: Queensland Corrective Services, Emergency Management Queensland, Queensland Fire and Rescue, and the Queensland Ambulance Service.
Of the three divisions housed in the QEOC (Corrective Services is housed at another location), Fire and Rescue and the Ambulance Service have separate, fully operational communication centers. The Aeromedical Service, which is part of the Ambulance Service, also has its own two-person communication center. Thus, Fire and Rescue, the Ambulance Service and Aeromedical are the three entities that use the new Acom system.
Separate but overlapping responsibilities
The Ambulance Service and Fire and Rescue are each responsible for their own programs and operations, but their activities overlap when events require it.
The Ambulance Service provides emergency and routine pre-hospital patient care and transport services and ambulance transportation between facilities. They also help respond to multi-casualty incidents. The Aeromedical Service is responsible for all fixed-wing and rotary-wing ambulance and medical transport.
Fire and Rescue handles structural fires and hazardous-materials emergencies. They also educate the public about fire and building safety and work with other agencies to coordinate disaster management when necessary.
Choosing Acom… again
Colin Allen, operations manager for the QEOC, explains why Acom was chosen for the new facility. “We used a previous version of Acom at our center at Spring Hill for over ten years,” he explains. “So we know Acom and have been happy with its performance, customizability and flexibility. But we wanted the new version with its updated functionality because everything in the QEOC is as current as possible. We also need a system that will expand along with us and will be supported locally once the installation is complete. Acom was able to fulfill all of these requirements.”
The Acom solution for the QEOC includes:
- 43 console positions.
- 10 analog PABX/PSTN interfaces.
- 156 analog radio interfaces.
- 10 utility audio interfaces.
- 46 PABX phone-to-console interfaces.
- 10 digital logging links that connect through E1 links to all consoles and radio lines
A phased-in cut-over
The Acom installation at the QEOC was conducted in two phases. “The two main communication centers are very large,” says Allen,
“so we moved Fire and Rescue first, and it went live February 27, 2012. Two weeks later, we moved the Ambulance Service and Aeromedical and cut them over. All of the centers have been running successfully ever since.”
It’s on the map
The QEOC is reaping significant benefits from the new system, some of which are the result of adaptations created specifically for the QEOC. For example, Zetron set up the system so that the QEOC’s radio towers are displayed on a large map on each Acom console. “We use this feature whenever we’re getting the help of an ambulance or fire unit from outside of our area,” says Allen. “When the vehicle comes into Brisbane, the operator can look on the map, see which repeater the vehicle is closest to, and tell them which channel to use. Another map on the CAD system shows the vehicle’s location. Previously, our operators had to search through a book to find the right channel. The map is so much easier and faster. The operators love it!”
Another important capability of the system is that it can take over communications for any of the other centers if they become inoperable for any reason. “We haven’t had to use this functionality yet,” says Allen, “but it is very reassuring to know that it’s there when we need it.”
Ready for the future
The new system has clearly passed muster at the QEOC. “It meets our complex needs extremely well,” says Allen. “Because Acom is so easy to use, it helps our operators do their jobs more quickly and efficiently. We also know it will meet our needs well into the future. We already have the infrastructure in place to expand it when the time comes.”
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