Berks County 9-1-1 Communication Center
In 1971, the County Commissioners began the Berks County Police Radio Net at the request of a group of municipal police agencies. The Berks County Communications Center began serving the public on August 1, 1981 when five (5) county fire companies joined the former Berks County Police Radio Net to begin a true multi-discipline Public-Safety Communications Center. At this point, the Communication Center relocated from Reading City Hall to the basement of the County’s Agricultural Center in Bern Township. In the Spring of 1985, Emergency Medical Services (EMS) were added to the system.
In January 1988, planning for 9-1-1 service began in Berks County. The Communication Center was moved to the 18th and 19th floor of the Berks County Courthouse in Reading on June 12, 1989 and began using its first Computer-Aided Dispatching (CAD) system in July 1989. 9-1-1 went live on Monday, November 20, 1989. Coincidentally that evening, a severe storm passed thru the area which inundated the new system with 444 calls. The new system was helmed by the five (5) telephone companies that covered Berks County: Bell of Pennsylvania; Conestoga Telephone Company; General Telephone Company; Commonwealth Telephone Company; and Contel Telephone Company. Even then, there were still areas on the perimeter of Berks County that were not covered by the County’s 9-1-1 system. There were also 6 independent dispatching centers in Berks County: Reading Police Department, Health Tec (Reading EMS), Zone 4 Communication Center (Wyomissing Fire and Police plus other Fire Departments in Western and South Western Berks County), Boyertown Communications (areas in and around Boyertown), and the two (2) Pennsylvania State Police Barracks within Berks County. Total calls for service in 1990 were 89,396.
1998: On October 21, the one millionth 9-1-1 call was received by the Communication Center (9-1-1 Service began in 1988). The busiest day for the Center was September 7, 1998 with 1306 calls.
2001: Communication Center consisted of six (6) shift supervisors, forty-seven (47) fulltime telecommunicators, and approximately 20 part-time telecommunicators.
2008: Communication Center was moved from the 18th/19th Floor of the Courthouse to the Direct Link Technologies Center in Bern Township. Communication Center was combined with the Department of Emergency Management to become the Berks County Department of Emergency Services.
2010: Berks County Communication Center became the primary Dispatch Center for all Municipal Police Departments (except Reading Police Department) within Berks County with the closure of the Wyomissing Borough Communication Center.
Today: Over 480,000 calls are answered each year by the Communication Center. 99.2% of these calls are answered in under 10 seconds. These calls resulted in over 230,000 dispatches of emergency services providers. The Communication Center dispatches for fifty-one law enforcement, fifty-nine fire, and fifteen EMS agencies. The Center staff consists of a one (1) Senior Watch Officer, six (6) Watch Officers, sixty-two (62) full-time telecommunicators and a small number of part-time telecommunicators.